Rain Delays, Rainouts & Makeup Dates, Oh My

Dilip Vishwanat

Sunday night's Cardinals/Rangers game was delayed three hours. So was Friday's Cubs/Astros game. Both those were interleague matchups. Is this going to be more common in the future?

You might have watched some of the rain-delay theater that ESPN aired Sunday night while waiting for the rain to depart St. Louis so that the Rangers and Cardinals could play their game. It started at 10:05 p.m. and ended about 1:10 a.m. Much of the discussion centered around the Rangers wanting their scheduled off-day in New York Monday; apparently, many Rangers players had flown their families there and wanted to spend time with them before they open a series with the Yankees Tuesday night.

I have some sympathy for that; as pointed out, baseball players get approximately 20 days off during the season, including the All-Star break (the Cubs, for example, have 16 off days plus the four All-Star break days this year), and that isn't much over a six-month period which is really closer to eight when you count spring training, when players get few days off.

On the other hand, baseball players get a four-month offseason when they have no work at all. Though baseball travel and time zone changes and different starting times can be rough on ballplayers, they travel in comfort and don't really have to do anything but show up -- their travel arrangements, luggage, etc. are all taken care of.

Here's an article explaining some of the details of why they waited so long -- but it also says the off day with players' families is essentially a washout, too:

The long delay also insured the Rangers a sunrise arrival in New York City for their "off" day. They were scheduled to land between 6 and 7 a.m. with arrival at their hotel about an hour later.

This jibes with my understanding of how long it takes for a team to get from the last out of a game to the airport ready for takeoff -- somewhere between two and two and a half hours. Thus, the Rangers' charter flight to New York didn't take off until (probably) about 3:30 a.m. CT; about two and a half hours later, it landed in New York, likely around 7 a.m. ET -- right in the middle of a New York rush hour. Having been in those, I can tell you that it could have taken likely more than an hour to get to their hotel, possibly 8:30 a.m. ET or later. Exhausted, the Rangers have probably slept away the day.

So what to do? As the link notes, there weren't many good options to make up the game, although one that wasn't mentioned was July 18, the Thursday after the All-Star Game. That day, once a date when about half the teams resumed the schedule, has now been made (by MLB/MLBPA agreement) a league-wide off day. Still, in circumstances like this, it should be considered as a makeup date.

MLB has to start doing a better job of scheduling, especially with mandatory year-round interleague play with 15-team leagues. There are now more one-time visits, like Rangers at Cardinals, scattered throughout the season with little or no makeup chances. Either teams need to be more flexible in granting makeup dates (and waive the rule that allows teams to veto playing on more than 20 consecutive dates), or we're going to see many more games like Sunday night's, which aren't really good for anyone.

The rest of this post is the second installment of my list of Cubs rainouts and makeup dates that I'm working on for Retrosheet, covering the years 1983-1990. The Cubs had no games postponed, home or road, in 1982. I find this remarkable; it's the only such year between 1974 and (at least) 1990 where the Cubs had no games postponed.

1983

April 5, Expos at Cubs (Opening Day), postponed, rescheduled for off day April 6
April 15, Cubs at Pirates, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH April 17
April 19, Cubs at Phillies, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH July 30

1984

April 15, Cubs at Mets, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH August 7
April 17, Cubs at Cardinals, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH April 18
April 22, Pirates at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH June 26
May 22, Cubs at Braves, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH May 24
May 28, Cubs at Reds, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH August 28
September 13, Expos at Cubs, postponed, not rescheduled
September 22, Cubs at Cardinals, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH September 23

1985

August 6, Cubs at Cardinals, postponed, rescheduled for off day September 5
September 8, Reds at Cubs. This was the game where Pete Rose tied (really: broke) Ty Cobb's record. It was delayed two hours by rain and finally suspended after nine innings, tied 5-5. The National League said it would be made up if the Reds needed it for playoff position; when the Reds were mathematically eliminated, the game was declared a tie and not made up.

1986

April 20, Pirates at Cubs, suspended due to darkness, completed August 11. Barry Bonds, who was recalled by the Pirates May 30 1986, played in the completion of the suspended game, thus technically (since all suspended game stats go to the original date) made his MLB debut this day.
April 21, Cardinals at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH June 13
June 27, Mets at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH August 6
August 6, Mets at Cubs, second game suspended, completed August 7
October 1, Cubs at Phillies, postponed, not rescheduled
October 3, Cardinals at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH October 4
October 4, Cardinals at Cubs, second game postponed, rescheduled as part of DH October 5
October 5, Cardinals at Cubs, second game postponed, not rescheduled. This was a very dark and gloomy day (remember, no lights at Wrigley yet) and even though it had begun to clear up when the second game got under way, no one really wanted to play it, as it had no bearing on pennant races. They played two innings and called it for "darkness", even though it was only 4:30 p.m.

1987

July 9, Dodgers at Cubs, game suspended, to be completed July 10.
July 10, Dodgers at Cubs, July 9 game completed, regularly scheduled 7/10 game suspended, to be completed July 11. Both of these dates were scheduled 3:05 starts.
August 25, Braves at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH August 26
August 26, Braves at Cubs, DH postponed. One game rescheduled as part of DH August 27, the other one not rescheduled
September 29, Cubs at Pirates, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH September 30

1988

May 9, Dodgers at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH July 14
May 23, Braves at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH May 24
July 15, Dodgers at Cubs, tie game, rescheduled as part of DH July 16. This was only three weeks before the lights were scheduled to be used for the first time and they had been certified for game use. Rather than wait out a rain delay and have the umpires order the lights turned on (before the official first night game), the game was called after nine innings.
August 8, Phillies at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH September 5. This was the scheduled first night game, rained out after 3½ innings.
September 19, Expos at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH September 20

1989

April 15, Cubs at Phillies, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH July 31

1990

April 9, Phillies at Cubs, postponed, rescheduled for off day April 12
April 11, Phillies at Cubs, postponed, now the April 12 off day is a doubleheader!
June 14, Cubs at Phillies, postponed, rescheduled as part of DH June 15

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