"It doesn't look good on the radar," manager Lou Piniella said beforehand. "(Third base coach) Mike Quade does a good job with radars, and this thing is socked in pretty good."
Had they simply observed conditions, though, they could have played five innings last night and avoided the full refunds they're going to have to give anyone who had bought a ticket for last night's rainout. It rained yesterday starting about 3:30 in the afternoon, and continued until about 6:15, at which time it let up, they pulled the tarp off the field, and began play on time. A light mist was falling, and gusty winds started to kick up, which made Lou's professed desire to see Jeff Samardzija pitch one more time this year rather useless. Samardzija gave up three runs in the first inning, but Lastings Milledge's two-run homer would have been a routine fly ball on most nights at Wrigley; the howling breeze blew Milledge's ball into the first row of the left-field bleachers.
When the rain got harder the umpires held up play. What you don't know and may not have seen on TV, if you were watching, was that the hard rain lasted about five minutes and then let up again for about half an hour -- during which time they could probably have played through the fifth inning and avoided all the refunds.
About 8,000 people showed up last night in the conditions reminiscent of the last time the Pirates were in town -- a hard rain for a few minutes, then enough time to play. The postponement was the fifth of the season for the Cubs, the most since 1986. This one, obviously, will be cancelled and not made up.
Why did the Cubs wait nearly 2 1/2 hours before finally calling the game? Look at it this way. According to Biz of Baseball, the average ticket price for Cubs games in 2009 is $47.75 (third highest in the major leagues behind the Yankees and Red Sox, incidentally). Assume that approximately 33,000 tickets were sold for last night's game -- a fairly safe assumption, since that was the announced paid attendance for Wednesday night's game. That would make the gross ticket revenue from Thursday night (approximately) $1,575,750. That ticket revenue alone would be nearly enough to cover Aaron Heilman's $1,625,000 contract (number from Cot's Baseball Contracts). Now they'll have to refund all that money and pay Heilman some other way.
I kid. A little. Years ago, on a day like yesterday, even without modern "Super Doppler Radar", management would have called the game three hours before game time and not even opened the doors. There's too much money involved now to do that, for better or for worse. The forecast for today and tomorrow isn't much better. Seems somehow an appropriate way to end this drip of a season. Today's pregame thread will be up at 11:30 am CDT.