By Kevin Powell
WRIGLEY FIELD – There was talk of air conditioning and mold, and there was plenty of drama at Wrigley Tuesday afternoon. But there wasn’t any playoff baseball. Major League Baseball decided to wait until after 5 p.m. to call the game, moving it to Wednesday at 3:08 p.m. Fans weren’t happy, especially since we knew rain was in the forecast well in advance.
Here was MLB chief officer Joe Torre’s explanation: “You try to make decisions on forecasts, and all of a sudden, you know, it doesn’t pan out…But the last thing you want to do is burn a starter, and it doesn’t take much to burn the starter; even warming up, because the starters, most of them now, take anywhere from 30, 40, 45 minutes to get their work in.”
I still don’t even fully understand Torre’s reasoning. It was pretty clear that the there was a window from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. — plenty of time to get a game in.
I get it. Ratings, money, concession sales etc. all play a role into the decision. There have been conflicting reports on whether or not TBS did shut down the idea of an earlier start time. But Tore did have this to say: “Well, they have to be a part of the decision because they pay a significant amount of money for the rights to televise our games. It’s really naïve to say they wouldn’t have any impact on when the games are played.”
And he’s right. Companies that pay millions of dollars for broadcast rights should have a say in the start time. But the rain was in the forecast well in advance of the scheduled start time. MLB and TBS should have either moved the time up, or announced the postponement the night before.
Alright, on from the weather/start time drama, and on to Dusty Baker’s bizarre press conference after the rain out. Everyone assumed the postponement would work in the Nationals favor. Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg, on regular rest, could now go in Game 4. Right?
“We’re going to go as planned with Tanner,” Baker said.
OK…why are you sticking with Tanner Roark?
“Well we decided to stay with Tanner because, number one, you know, he was slated. Didn’t work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we’re all creatures of habit, and plus, we’ve got full confidence in Tanner.
“And Stras, it would have been better, because he’s feeling under the weather, like a lot of my team is. So this day actually comes as a plus for my team.”
Then, Baker gave an odd explanation as to why his club isn’t feeling well.
“Yes, and a lot of my team is under the weather with the change of weather and the air conditioning I the hotel and the air conditioning here. It’s just this time of the year for mold around Chicago – I think it’s mold. I mean, I have it, too.”
Between the Strasburg decision, and the air conditioning and mold comment, social media was buzzin’ with Dusty talk. But then this report came out from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 10, 2017
Starsburg reportedly declined the opportunity to start in Game 4. Have fun explaining that one to the Nats’ fan base. He’s one of the faces of the franchise and has a $175 million dollar contract. The Cubs own a 2-1 series lead. And you decline the opportunity to start a must-win game?
There wasn’t even a game played on Tuesday and the Nationals still found a way to screw things up. Meanwhile, the Cubs were just doing their thing, chugging along.
“Right now our guys are ready to play,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They were in the weight room getting ready to play. Everything was fine, nobody was crying anything about anything, about the wait or what was going to happen tonight.”
The Nationals have found ways to lose in this series. While the Cubs are finding ways to win.
Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720