As I write this article, the temperature in Chicago is in the mid-60s and it’s sunny and pleasant, with light winds. The forecast for this evening is for clear skies and temperatures in the 50s.
Those are really nice baseball weather conditions for early April. Unfortunately, the Cubs won’t be playing baseball today, as it’s a scheduled off day. Then the Cubs have the Pirates scheduled for night games at Wrigley Field Wednesday and Thursday. Baseball at night in Chicago in early April isn’t pleasant even under average weather conditions for this time of year, as the average low temperature is 39 degrees, but the Cubs are now going to try to play baseball through this awful forecast:
Rain. High near 38. Breezy, with a northeast wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Rain likely, mainly before 7pm. Cloudy, with a low around 38. Windy, with an east wind 25 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
A chance of showers, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 55. Windy, with an east southeast wind 20 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 1am, then a slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Those conditions are not conducive to baseball, not at all. It’s not just the rain, it’s the cold and wind. The Wednesday forecast sounds like it’s going to be a lot like it was at Wrigley Field April 14, 2018, when the Cubs and Braves played a game in what Joe Maddon called the most miserable conditions he’d ever seen:
Cubs manager Joe Maddon says that was the worst weather conditions he has ever been part of In a baseball game calling it ‘horrific.’ ‘We never should have played the game.” And this is from the winning manager after crazy 14-10 victory over #Braves— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 14, 2018
And that’s from the guy who managed Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, which was played in a torrential downpour until it was tied up so it could be suspended. (The suspended-game rules have since been changed, largely because of that game.) Here’s the Retrosheet summary of what happened that day:
game suspended due to heavy rain and winds at 10:39 PM; resumed at 8:40 on 10/29; the first suspension in World Series history; temperature at the time of the resumption was 44 but it was dry
And in case you’ve forgotten how bizarre that Cubs/Braves game was last year, here are some highlights of the Cubs’ wet, cold, wacky eighth-inning comeback [VIDEO].
Fun, sure (though not for the Braves). The point is, though: Why would you want to try to play a baseball game under conditions similar to that? It’s not like the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday wasn’t known several days ago, because it was, and I wrote four days ago that they should have rescheduled:
So I’m suggesting the Cubs be proactive and do this: Reschedule the Thursday night game for Tuesday evening at 7:05 p.m. CT, and move the Wednesday game up to 1:20 p.m. Leaving the schedule as is runs the risk of at least one and possibly two postponements, or at best playing in really bad weather conditions.
The Cubs, apparently, were actually considering doing something along those lines yesterday:
With a bad weather forecast the Cubs have been looking at possibly changing Wednesday’s game back one day. Fans having to change their schedules a major reason why they will hesitate.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) April 8, 2019
It is possible to move up wed game to the off day tomorrow but would have to be a slam dunk bad forecast for wed. Cubs aren’t there. Would affect plenty of fans obviously.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 8, 2019
I am certainly not insensitive to fans who would either have to change plans or who couldn’t go to a game for which they had previously purchased tickets. In such cases, the Cubs could offer ticket credit for a future game or some other perk, they can certainly afford to. There’s another factor involved as well, and that’s the Cubs’ ability to put together a gameday staff of security employees, concession workers, etc. on short notice. That’s especially difficult this time of year, as most of those workers also have other jobs and many of them are teachers. Teaching jobs allow those folks to have jobs at Wrigley when schools are out, but on short notice in April? Not as easy to do.
So I get that. But as I noted above, the forecast for this Wednesday and Thursday was pretty obvious four days ago. The Cubs thought about it Monday, but needed a “slam dunk”? It was pretty much a slam dunk over the weekend. Had they started the process of rescheduling last Thursday, when I first wrote about this, they probably could have gotten it done and at least got the game in tonight. Then, if weather caused them issues Wednesday, calling off Thursday’s game and rescheduling it when the opponent (Pirates) comes to Wrigley twice more is relatively simple.
Now, the Cubs face the possibility of two postponements, or in playing games in poor weather for baseball, with injury risk magnified. In addition, many fans who hold tickets to such games won’t come anyway in bad weather. You can see that in the video highlights above; the announced attendance for April 14, 2018 at Wrigley was 36,788. In my recap linked above, I estimated maybe 15,000 showed up and by the time the Cubs had their eighth-inning comeback, perhaps 1,000 remained in the house.
Weather in Chicago in April is notoriously fickle; it can be summerlike one day (as it was on Monday), then winterlike conditions can prevail just a day or two later. The Cubs should have been more proactive and rescheduled.