The Texas Rangers hosted the Toronto Blue Jays in the club’s home opener Monday afternoon and, in what is either an exciting development or a certifiably insane one depending on your epidemiological/political worldview, a grand total of 38,238 fans packed into the seats at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The Rangers classified the attendance as a sellout for the only team in Major League Baseball currently allowed to operate at full capacity after the Republican governor of Texas declared the state 100 percent done with COVID-19 and any of the restrictions that come with it.
Packing tens of thousands of fans into a stadium, even an open-air one, isn’t exactly CDC-approved at this point in the pandemic. “I think it’s a mistake,” President Joe Biden said last week of the Rangers’ plan to play before a full house. “They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.” Texas has fully vaccinated 16 percent of its eligible population, and a quarter of the state has received at least one dose.
In a hat tip to public pandemic responsibility, the Rangers, like all MLB teams at the moment, technically require fans to wear masks while in their seats, but as you can imagine, that was ultimately a performative gesture to placate the PC squares at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other teams and leagues are cautiously reopening at reduced capacity, but that’s not really Texas’ vibe. The Rangers hosted two exhibition games without attendance restrictions last week against the Milwaukee Brewers, but neither game had an announced attendance of more than 13,000.
The club says after opening day the stadium will operate at reduced capacity to allow for “distanced seating” sections at the stadium, which will, in theory, allow for fans to spread out.