The RedHawks’ season ended today, and there’s one more year left on the club’s Triple-A affiliation with the Texas Rangers, which began back in 1983 and has been regularly renewed ever since.
Matt Patterson, on the Boids beat at the Oklahoman, thinks there’s a chance it won’t be:
There has been speculation the Rangers would like to have both their Double-A and Triple-A franchises in Texas. Frisco is the current home of the Double-A Roughriders.
One landing spot for the Rangers’ Triple-A team could be Round Rock. The Express is about to enter the final year of its agreement with the Houston Astros. The Express is co-owned by Rangers team president Nolan Ryan. His son, Reid, is the chief executive officer.
Nolan Ryan might become part of the Rangers ownership now that current owner Tom Hicks is looking for buyers. Some have speculated Nolan Ryan’s continued involvement with the Rangers could help steer their Triple-A team to Round Rock.
A lot of speculation, to be sure, but this makes sense on several levels, not least of which is the fact that Round Rock’s affiliation with Houston ends at the same time the RedHawks-Rangers deal runs out. It wouldn’t be the first time the Astros had a Triple-A club here: the original Colt .45s, a National League expansion team in 1962, signed their first Triple-A agreement with what were then the Oklahoma City 89ers, which would continue through the 1972 season.
Says Patterson, some other teams might be looking for new Triple-A deals, including the White Sox and the Blue Jays. But the Astros would seem to be the front-runners should the Rangers pull out: historically, there’s been a definite preference for more-or-less regional affiliations. (Houston’s Double-A club is the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League.)
And a deal with the ‘Stros would actually make a slight difference in gameplay: current Triple-A (and Double-A) rules call for the designated-hitter rule — except in games between two National League-affiliated clubs, since the NL scorns the DH, and five of the eight teams in the American Conference of the Pacific Coast League, where the ‘Hawks play, are affiliated with NL clubs. (It’s a four-four split in the Pacific Conference.)