Blame it on the Rain
Something that pretty much is moronic in every way, although clearly a First World problem, transpired in Boston Wednesday, and it reflects an issue I have long held strong feelings about. The game between the Red Sox and the Royals was suspended after about a two-hour rain delay that extended past midnight. In a dubious, to say the least, decision, the game will be resumed at 1:05 on August 22nd with a 2-1 count on the Royals Melbrys Viloria and nobody out in the top of the tenth. There might be less than one inning of baseball played.
There is no common sense here. It is certain that the Royals will not play a meaningful game the rest of the year, and the Red Sox recent skid of losing nine out of ten, makes them look an unlikely playoff team. So why the powers that be didn’t just let things play out and play the game only if necessary is a mystery. Maybe it shouldn’t be considering the brain dead and inconsiderate way baseball handles weather measures.
This one sucks for the players. The Royals give up a day off after a night game in Baltimore on the way to Cleveland. The Red Sox don’t get a travel off day as they head across the country to San Diego. Sox manager Alex Cora highlighted the First World aspect of this “sacrifice” by noting that the players are disappointed due to “no golf, no Sea World, no Lego Land”. I am not going to cry a million tears for the players, but still it was unnecessary.
What really DOES grind my gears is baseball’s attitude on rain delays and postponements as it impacts fans. Basically, they don’t give a rip, period. It’s all about the players, and the competition. This is entertainment folks, and people pay serious cash to watch it. And it is extremely bad value when two and three-hour rain delays are thrown at paying customers.
First of all, baseball should be much more liberal in postponing games. I would make a minimum temperature for games to be played. Grinding one out in 34-degree chills in April is bad entertainment. It sucks for the players, but they are at least moving around on the field, and have heaters in the dugout. And how many times do we see teams wait and wait to call off a game on a night where it is extremely unlikely that it will ever be played? Calling a game off at six o’clock or so is just plain rude to fans who have to come on out on the hope that the unlikely occurs. If the occasional mistake is made and it doesn’t rain a lot, so be it.
The threat of bad weather will cause some to stay away, but they generally have already bought the tickets, and if the game is played, you are out of luck. I strongly believe that if nothing changes and they continue to play games after ridiculous delays, or in miserable conditions, rain checks should be issued far more often.
If I were commissioner, I would institute a 90-minute rain delay limit, two hours maximum, perhaps a touch longer for day games. Asking fans to wait until 9:30 or 10:00 for games to start is absurd, with the certainty you will be playing baseball after midnight. Would this cause some hardships for players, sure it would. But I mention strongly again, this is entertainment, the fans are paying a lot to enjoy it, and the players are getting paid a lot to provide it.
One other thing that is routinely done is making sure that starting pitching is protected under the mantra that you don’t want to start a game that you might have to stop after an inning or two. Many times, games are held up and the conditions never get to the point that the game ever would have been stopped. On top of that, a lot of times games continue under conditions that they never would have started in. This especially should be considered in today’s world of openers. If the weather looks dicey, start the game with an opener out there, if the rain comes, you just wait and put the original starter in after the delay, if not, the starter comes in after a couple of innings. Hell, in all likelihood he was only going to pitch five or six innings anyway.
The bottom line is that fan consideration should be ramped up immensely in cases of weather. It is virtually ignored currently, and that is absurd. Since it has been so bad, a lot of goodwill could be created with the simplest of measures. It has taken so much to get baseball to move to protect fans safety. It should be that much easier to protect their comfort, and their wallets.