Game On In Texas: Rangers Purposely Built Visitors Bullpen To Be A  Pain In The…?

The World Series has played out like a soap opera thus far, with Monday’s game five win by the Texas Rangers serving up the strangest script yet.  A series of blunders by the St. Louis Cardinals certainly helped lead the home team to a 4-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead, leaving many wondering how such an experienced skipper like Tony La Russa could allow so many miscues when the stakes were so high. 

A bit of inside information from one of TV’s more notable sports writers might help explain part of the snafu, as well as lend some credibility to La Russa’s seemingly silly explanation. 

La Russa explained his mismatches on the mound as bullpen bloopers of sorts, citing poor communication between the dugout and the bullpen.  The Cards manager said that the bullpen coach misheard his instructions over the phone, probably due to the high volume of the crowd noise. 

Shout out to Tony Reali, host of ESPN’s Around The Horn for posting an outtake from Tuesday’s show (posted above) where guest Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News said that the visitors bullpen’s sketchy placement and set-up was purposely built that way, putting the away team at a disadvantage.  Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was built in 1994 and has often been criticized for not having been built with a retractable roof, considering the sweltering Texas summers. 

From multiple camera angles on the TV broadcast, it looks like you can’t see inside the bullpen from the dugout, which, I’d bet, the visiting team finds slightly annoying. In an ABC News article, La Russa addressed previous bullpen incidences at other ball parks, saying, “Yeah, smoke signals from the dugout.  There are times, like what happened in Philadelphia (during the first round of the playoffs). The phone went out, and so we used cell phones. And then the Phillies brought down walkie talkies, and they fixed the phone.”

I’ve heard of stadiums and arenas undergoing renovations and purposely leaving the visitors locker room untouched for that same reason; to keep a bunch of big, strong, tough athletes in a small, confined and uncomfortable space before games.  Within reason, I say it’s a pretty solid display of gamesmanship on the part of home team management and ownership.  This kind of stuff shouldn’t affect great teams anyway.  Rangers Ballpark in Arlington did undergo renovations heading into the 2011 baseball season, clearly, none of which included the visitors bullpen.  I fully expect the Busch Squirrel to exact revenge on the Rangers in St. Louis, completely chewing through the Texas dugout-to-bullpen phone line all together!

Click here for ABC News’ story on Bullpen-gate.