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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
HOUSTON - Hurricane Harvey has forced both the Houston Astros and Houston Texans to play home games miles away from the flood-stricken city with players wondering when they will be able to come back.
The Astros will play a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, this week, starting today, and the Texans will wrap up their preseason schedule against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington instead of NRG Stadium.
"You have to go about your business and handle it," Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph said Monday as the schedule for the week became clear and the misery of Harvey continued unabated.
"But it's kind of hard at the same time to kind of sit there and play football and then think about your family that's back home when there's constantly updates going on around the clock about things that are going on back in your hometown."
Both the Astros and Rangers flew to Dallas after games in California on Sunday to await news of where the series would be held.
After a day off Monday, they will now head to St. Petersburg, where the Astros will have "home" games far away from home, just as they did in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008 when they played two scheduled home games in Milwaukee.
The team also said a three-game series against the New York Mets that begins on Friday may also be played at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. A person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press that the decision has already been made and shared with the players, though there was no word from the team or Major League Baseball. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move was not disclosed.
The Texans have been in the Dallas area since leaving New Orleans after playing the Saints there on Saturday night. As the flooding dominated the news, athletes with ties to Houston kept nervous watch.
Consumed by feelings of helplessness and frustration, LSU starting right tackle Toby Weathersby said he filled his truck with gas with the intent of venturing into Houston to try to evacuate his grandparents. He held off - but it was hard.
"I was going to be stupid, but I had to come to the realization that I've got to leave it up to the professionals," Weathersby said.
Weathersby and his LSU teammates were supposed to play BYU on Saturday at the home of the Texans. That game has been moved to the Superdome in New Orleans.
The Rice football team was settling in Monday on TCU's campus in Fort Worth. The Owls opened the season over the weekend in Australia, where they lost to Stanford. They arrived in Los Angeles on Monday morning before another flight to Dallas, and were expected to share the campus with the Horned Frogs until things improve in Houston. The Owls have a week off before traveling to play UTEP on Sept. 9.
"While we would love to be coming home today, our first responsibility is the safety of these players," coach David Bailiff said. "We learned some lessons in 2008 (during Hurricane Ike) about coming home too soon."
The University of Houston football team, meanwhile, is in Austin, Texas, where former coach Tom Herman is preparing for his first season in charge of the Longhorns after two seasons at Houston. Herman said the Cougars canceled their scheduled practice Sunday when the flooding was getting worse back in Houston, and "guys being worried and not really being focused on football, nor should they have been."
New Houston coach Major Applewhite said he wasn't sure how long the team would remain in Austin, but that they'd been able to determine that the families of all players and staff back home in Houston were safe.
"On this trip, our job is (to) be No. 1, parents, and No. 2, to be coaches," he said. "We have to understand the human element in this."
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