After Tuesday’s scheduled NLDS Game 4 between the Cubs and Nationals was postponed, which happened at 5:15 p.m. CT, I made a slow trudge back to my car through a pretty heavy rainfall. Traffic from the ballpark, rush-hour traffic and the heavy rain made my usual short ride home take about 45 minutes, during which time I had a chance to ruminate about how MLB and its TV partner TBS made the call to postpone the game.
Given the starting time and the rainfall which appears to be in town all evening, there was clearly no way the teams were going to get the proverbial “window” of three hours or so to play baseball Tuesday evening. Thus given the 4:30 p.m. CT starting time, they made the right call.
The question remains: Was it ever proposed to start the game at 1 p.m. CT? If that had happened, they would have had four hours before rain began a few minutes after 5.
Here’s a report that a 1 p.m. starting time was proposed, and nixed by TBS:
Rain approaching Wrigley tonight. TBS was asked to start game at 1 PM, and refused. Huh.— Chip Caray (@kapaya1234) October 10, 2017
Wasn't just TBS. Not many people wanted a 1 pm playoff game on a Tuesday afternoon, but Cubs would've been good with that.— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) October 10, 2017
Chip Carey tweeted Cubs asked TBS for 1 pm start and they denied it. TBS refuted report, but Hoyer insinuated as much on radio today..— Josh Frydman (@Josh_Frydman) October 10, 2017
TBS: "This is not accurate. It never even came up." https://t.co/HvPIsmWtiT— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 10, 2017
FWIW, both MLB and TBS say a 1 pm CT start for today's Cubs-Nats game "never came up." Would have been the best option given forecast.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 10, 2017
Well. Someone’s not telling the truth here. I cannot imagine that this “didn’t come up” — it was an obvious thing to ask for given the forecasts for today, which turned out to be pretty accurate. I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer here — I’m just pointing out information which is clearly contradictory.
Look, I get it. TV money drives a big part of the business that is baseball. Obviously TBS is going to generate a higher rating for a game that starts at 4:30 p.m. CT than one that begins at 1 p.m. CT.
But at a certain point you do have to consider fans who, in some cases, spent a great deal of money not only for tickets but to travel to Chicago for the games. I spoke to a fair number of people who have to head back home Wednesday and who cannot stay for the rescheduled Game 4. Granted, that’s a small minority of the overall crowd. But I’m guessing there are some Chicagoans who can’t make it Wednesday either.
Further, this could have had a baseball impact on the series. Stephen Strasburg, who started Game 1 for the Nationals Friday night, could have gone on regular four-day rest Wednesday. That, apparently, is not going to happen:
Baker says Roark will start Wed for Nats vs #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) October 10, 2017
Dusty says Strasburg feeling a little "under the weather." So are other members of Nats. #NLDS #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) October 10, 2017
Dusty said Strasburg threw a bullpen earlier today planning to start Game 5, which wow.— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) October 10, 2017
The Nationals say Dusty misspoke, Strasburg threw a bullpen yesterday. But he is under the weather and his endurance is down.— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) October 10, 2017
There are no easy answers here and I grant that there are a number of factors involved in scheduling events like this. All I’ll say is that if there was a chance the game could have been played Tuesday at 1 p.m. Central, MLB should have done that instead of sticking to the 4:30 p.m. CT time for TV’s sake. I can’t shake the feeling that this all could have been handled better.
So in the end, a few people are inconvenienced, and the game will be played midafternoon, by which time all this rain is supposed to be out of the Chicago area. The forecast is for cloudy and cool conditions with temperatures in the low 60s, which is basically how things were most of the afternoon at Wrigley Field, before it started raining. I imagine both teams will stick with the previously announced lineups for Game 4.