Much of Monday’s White Sox/Royals game was played in drenching rain, with a severe thunderstorm warning having been issued for an area that included Guaranteed Rate Field. Why on Earth would you play baseball through this?
AT 212 PM CDT, A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WAS LOCATED OVER WOODRIDGE, OR NEAR BOLINGBROOK, MOVING EAST AT 35 MPH. THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING LARGE HAIL AND WIND DAMAGE.
HAZARD...PING PONG BALL SIZE HAIL AND 60 MPH WIND GUSTS.
That’s Yolmer Sanchez at bat before the first rain delay was called — and as you can see, they were playing through some very hard rain even before that. Play was resumed twice, both times with the rain not having stopped, and the rest of that clip shows Sanchez driving in the tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning. It was clear that they were determined to get the game tied and through five innings so they could suspend it.
That resulted in this ridiculous play [VIDEO].
I mean, I guess Sanchez had some fun, and whatever remnant of the crowd seemed to like it, but playing through conditions like that puts everyone at risk — players, fans, gameday employees, everyone at the ballpark.
Mike Bojanowski was at this game. Here’s what he told me when I asked about what occurred on the South Side Monday:
After the second inning, it was raining hard enough for me to put my scorecard away. After that, it was readily apparent that the only goal they had by continuing to play was to finish five innings, and damn the consequences meantime. Teams do this almost routinely, now, but this became a farce early and got almost to the point of comedy before they finally were able to figleaf a technicality and get it suspended, still one out short, thus accomplishing their goal after all.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, with the infield skin nearly a lake and lightning strikes nearby, they finally covered the field. There are some scheduled games that cannot be played to officialdom; there are some official games that cannot be played to nine innings. This is a practical and reasonable reality that MLB seems determined to ignore, to the detriment of the convenience and safety of fans and players alike.
About three hours later, the rain let up sufficiently (it never actually stopped) for the grounds crew to attempt heroic measures to resume play. The field had to be treated in sections, the tarp was rolled back piecemeal, and the exposed soil (nearly all that was visible under the tarp was standing water) was dried as well as could be done. They did resume, in another steady rain, and got an additional out, not to mention the Sox tying the game on Sanchez’ base hit. And in the midst of an increasing downpour, high comedy ensued when the Sox challenged the second out of the inning, a runner caught on the bases (it was upheld on review). Once again, the field had to be covered, with Sanchez getting the last word in, first making a “mud angel” in what was left of the infield, and then dousing himself with a waterlogged Gatorade bucket in the dugout.
Another hour and a half, and they tried it AGAIN. However, the field was so obviously damaged that it was unplayable, and thus they had the technicality to declare a suspension. We were finally sent home at 6:45 p.m., the few hundred or so that were left.
I should not have to establish my bonafides as a paying customer and ballpark regular in this town. I was angry. This displayed contempt for my comfort, my time, and any idea that I would, under the conditions they were willing to tolerate, see the major league baseball that I paid for.
Supposedly, the umpires had charge of the circumstance, but I can’t imagine any honest umpire allowing this to go on. I would love to know whether, directly or indirectly, umpires now are under a directive from the MLB office to continue hopeless games in this manner. I would like to know who to be angry at, but there’s likely no way to know, that anyone will admit.
MLB, in recent years, has pushed harder and harder to play games in conditions like this to avoid postponements and makeup dates. They eventually suspended the game, based on what you read above from Mike Bojanowski. If they’re going to suspend games in that case, then MLB ought to change the suspended-game rule to allow suspensions at ANY time once a game has started, and conditions are not suitable for resumption (the infield, as you can see in those videos, was a lake, and I can’t imagine the outfield was too safe, either).
I understand the reasoning behind “five innings” — it’s to give some value to ticket holders, who otherwise would not see an “official game.” I get that, but when you’re talking about the dangers of severe weather and a field that is clearly unplayable, perhaps that should take a back seat? Most teams, and the White Sox are among them, often can accommodate fans who have tickets for games like this by giving them a ticket for another game. (The Cubs, on the other hand, likely can’t, given their large advance sale for many games.) Further, this was a game against an A.L. Central team. The Royals return to Chicago in September, so even a makeup date wouldn’t have been too difficult to arrange.
Mark my words. There will come a time, and probably soon, when a game is played in conditions like this and a star player will suffer a season-ending or even career-ending injury. Oh, wait. That’s already almost happened [VIDEO].
That happened to Bryce Harper August 12, 2017 in Washington, when his leg slid across a wet base and he suffered a knee injury that slowed him the rest of that year. That game had been delayed three hours by rain — they started at 10 p.m. ET even though they already had an afternoon doubleheader scheduled the following day. The game meant nothing — the Nats were leading the N.L. East by 15 games on that date and the Giants were in last place, 24 games under .500 — and should never have been played at all.
Harper was none too pleased about all of that:
And he also was not happy about yet another Nationals Park rain delay putting him and others in danger.
“I don’t like wet bases,” Harper said between games of Sunday’s doubleheader with the Giants.
You’d think MLB would want to be proactive and avoid things like that, but their blinders-on “play five innings no matter what” attitude seems to not recognize the dangers of playing baseball in conditions like Monday’s. They need to change this attitude before something untoward happens.