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There was more to that Friday night Cubs/Nationals rain delay than was revealed that day

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MLB and its teams and players should be more transparent with fans.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, I wrote this article blasting MLB for the way it handled the rain delay and eventual postponement of Friday night’s game.

Turns out there was more to it than simply not giving out information, as reported by Chelsea Janes in the Washington Post. This is a long, detailed explanation, so I’m going to post it here in its entirety:

When the evening began, the MLB Players Association discussed options with the player representatives from both teams. Sean Doolittle, not normally a Nationals player representative, served as one for the evening because Max Scherzer was starting Saturday and knew he would leave the park early if the delay dragged on.

Doolittle, Bryce Harper and Trea Turner spoke with the league and their Cubs counterparts, Kris Bryant and Tommy La Stella, on numerous conference calls and through group text messages. As it was explained to Doolittle, both teams had already been forced to play the maximum number of split doubleheaders allowed by the new collective bargaining agreement — a cap instituted because organizations generally prefer day-night doubleheaders because they get two games’ worth of ticket sales, while players prefer the true doubleheader because they spend less time at the field.

Because both had met their quota, both teams had to consent to another split doubleheader, something Doolittle said the Nationals players were willing to do.

“The Cubs were kind of holding out hope that we were going to catch a window a little bit later. We were like, ‘No. The weather here? Trust us. Once it starts, sometimes it doesn’t stop,’” Doolittle said.

But the Cubs wouldn’t budge, hoping they would be able to get the game in despite the Nationals’ concerns. Those concerns, in part, loomed even larger because of what happened the last time the Nationals delayed a game until late in the evening then started play on a wet field. Harper slipped on first base and suffered a bone bruise to his knee that looked like it could have been much worse.

“Starting the game past midnight on a wet field, that has a lot of people around here really, really uneasy,” Doolittle explained. “I don’t know if it’s in the best interest of player safety.”

Amid the ongoing discussions some time shortly after 11 p.m., the rain stopped. Then the league saw more weather sliding in on the radar and made the decision to play a true doubleheader Saturday.

Clearly, there was more to this than just waiting out weather.

What I want to know is this: Why couldn’t some or all of this have been made known to the fans in the stadium and those watching the game on TV, either Nats fans or Cubs fans? If this is the sort of thing that eventually can be told to reporters the next day, why can’t the teams and the league be more transparent while this is going on?

I’m not suggesting that every detail of these discussions be made public. But certainly, you’d think fans could be informed that playing or not playing depends not just on the weather, but on details of the CBA and discussions between the players, team management and MLB? As it was, a few weather updates tweeted by the Nationals official Twitter account were all that was made public — and not very often — and the only other information we got was various tweets from beat writers from both teams essentially saying, “It’s still raining hard here.”

No one can control the weather, but MLB, its teams and players can and should be more proactive about informing its paying customers (and those watching from home) about why games are being delayed so long, and exactly what has to happen in order to play.

I’m aware that none of this is an easy thing for anyone involved, and Chelsea Janes’ article explains it well. I’m simply suggesting that the things that she was told the next day could very easily have been told to everyone as it was happening. Teams have public spokespeople and social media accounts. Use them!

One last note: I find it interesting that Tommy La Stella is one of the Cubs’ player representatives. Given La Stella’s history with the ballclub, I think it’s great that he’s gotten himself back in the good graces of his teammates enough that they elected him a player rep. This is just one more way of showing how tight-knit a group the Cubs players are and how they can work out problems to the benefit of the entire clubhouse.