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Are clubs jumping the gun on rainouts?

May 18, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT

Mets Braves Baseball

Yesterday I observed that the Washington-Pittsburgh rainout seemed a bit hasty. You know, what with there being no rain in Washington yesterday and everything. Same went for the Mets-Marlins game last night which, it seems anyway, could have been played. I’m not the only one noticing. The USA Today notes that  “preemptive postponements” seem to be on the rise.

The question raised by the USA Today is whether there is a strategic angle to all of this. On the business side, scheduling a game on a sunny day later in the year might make for a bigger crowd.  And, as some are suggesting, perhaps dates later in the year may make for more games with a stronger roster too. That last bit seems a bit conspiracy theorist to me. But hey: when there’s no baseball game, we have nothing else to do but to come up with that kind of stuff.

But like I said yesterday: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. People complain about games being cancelled early. But if they cancel late, everyone complains that the team was just trying to get parking fees and a couple of beers sold before calling it night.

It’s the weather, man. And you know the saying: everyone likes to talk about the weather, but no one ever gets off their lazy butt and creates a weather control device (which could also cause earthquakes) to bring the world to its knees unless the nations of Earth destroyed all of their nuclear weapons, aircraft and navies and accepted the control of the Galaxy Organization.

  1. Jay Seaver - May 18, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I’m all but certain that one game the Red Sox cancelled (the third in the Tampa series back in April) was a “screw it, let’s take a couple extra off-days and regroup” cancellation. It was five hours before gametime and we’d been seeing a few “they redid the infield and improved drainage” stories in the spring.

  2. seanmk - May 18, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    there was a game scheduled for september 1st, so i guess that has some sort of merit

  3. The Common Man/www.platoonadvantage.com - May 18, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I say that all the time. But then I don’t get off my butt either. And really, the Xenoshians are getting really anxious for me to finish.

  4. yankeesfanlen - May 18, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Is the “Galaxy Organization” anything like the “Yankee Universe”? If so, I’m in.

    • wlschneider09 - May 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      Yes. Both are fictitious.

  5. Tim's Neighbor - May 18, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Having worked full-time on the Braves ground crew up until last week, I can confirm that there was nothing sinister with the Braves cancellations. I know you were all worried.

    Really, it just came down to bad luck. The cells, in both cases, hit at the right time. Incredibly unlucky. Teams hate to cancel. You already have a lot of capital/time wrapped up in the game (including hundreds of employees). No one in baseball front offices wants a rain-out. No one.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - May 18, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      It’s cool to have a guy in the biz respond to these posts. Thanks for the insight.

  6. danberman4 - May 18, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    The rainouts are getting out of hand. I don’t remember teams using them as part of strategy as the Mets apparently did yesterday or the Braves did earlier in making the Mets play a doubleheader to makeup of a a rainout. It’s all surreal.
    http://pinetarandbrickbats.blogspot.com/2011/05/baseballs-soggy-spring.html

    • bennyblanco1 - May 18, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      What was this so called strategy the Mets apparently attempted last night?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 18, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        perhaps rescheduling for right around the time of Wright’s return?

    • Tim's Neighbor - May 18, 2011 at 2:31 PM

      There was no conspiracy for the Braves/Mets rain-out. It was too wet on the field and the rain wasn’t stopping. Do you really think the Braves wanted to lose an entire day of ticket sales like they did? It doesn’t make any economical sense and we all know MLB is economics first, competition second. So once the Braves HAD to cancel (as in no choice to play the game that night), why not play it the next day? Since they were going to lose money, might as well get a competitive advantage out of it. And I won’t stoop so low as to say it’s the Mets and they don’t really need any further competitive advantage. No sir. Won’t say that at all.

  7. akismet-e6748cca3a16ea6e8283008d25583adc - May 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    We had planned on attending yesterday’s Nats game and were highly irritated with the quick draw cancellation yesterday. I postulated several contributing factors to the “rainout” being announced so early:
    1. Pittsburgh returns for a July 1-3 set and they can easily do a day/night DH on saturday july 2nd for more ticket revenue than what they would have gotten for a 105 tuesday game.
    2. It was a get-away day for both teams.
    3. The cancellation allows the team to skip Jordan Zimmermann’s turn in the rotation, which gives him one more start later in the year before he gets shut down on an innings limit post TJ surgery.
    4. Lastly, DC weather has been odd the past few days … we were legitimately seeing deluge pockets of rain in one area and sun in others at the same time. If the field really did take a ton of water overnight, they may have just decided that the ominous forecast (100% rain and thunderstorms all day) was enough.

    my 2 cents.

    • bosfaninva - May 18, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      I’m in the DC area too, and I could understand why the cancelled the low-revenue $2 Tuesday game against the Bucs. We went to the Sunday game against the Marlins, and all morning we were sure the game would be rained out. But we forged ahead and it turned out to be a beautiful day for baseball — in front of an alleged 18,000 people on a Sunday afternoon. Clearly the ominous clouds kept people away. So why go ahead with a Tuesday game that would draw even fewer people given the time, opponent, and crazy weather?

    • natstowngreg - May 18, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      I wrote in another thread about my effort to attend this game, but I think your points are on target. Normally, if the opponent is non-division, they will make every effort to get the games in. Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Nats lost one interleague series and picked up an extra Pirates series.

      Last month, it resulted in a rare treat — an old-fashioned Sunday doubleheader vs. the Brewers. But it can also result in travesties — remember RandyJohnson’s 300th win for the Giants, delayed about 3 hours and witnessed by a few hundred fans?

  8. sdelmonte - May 18, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Last night was pretty rainy in NYC. And it’s been like that for two days. Field conditions might have been just too muddy.

  9. Jonny 5 - May 18, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    If you didn’t sell many tickets, why not cancel? You guarantee the already sold tickets, then you have time to sell some more for the make up date. It appears to make sense, but only to teams with crap for attendance. A team with sellouts would hate a cancelled game, it does nothing for them but cause hassles, where a team with dwindling attendance could benefit.

    • yankeesfanlen - May 18, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Has anyone heard of a Yankees single admission double header in the last half century? What a train wreck the separate admission double header make-ups are as well.

  10. steve keane - May 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    I think one reason teams are cancelling games early is so the game day workers (ushers, ticket takers, concessionaires and so forth) don’t have to be paid. As soon as the clubs open the gates, those folks, who are union workers, must be paid for the day if the game is postponed. At least that’s the case here in NYC. Friends of mine tend bar at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field and that’s what they tell me is the policy for the Mets/Yankees. So an early cancellations saves the clubs a lot of money

  11. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - May 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Rrrrrrrrrright….they canceled the buccos/nats in hopes of greater revenue in the future, sunny game when both teams’ rosters are stronger….rrrrrrright. I think I could set up a lemonade stand on this supposed future sunny day game and make more cash money than these two teams will bring in. In other words, they call rainouts b/c they think it’s going to rain, nothing more.

  12. fivetoolmike - May 18, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    I blame the Cubs loss yesterday on the rain causing errors (and their poor fundamentals (except for Carlos Peña’s error: that dude’s awesome and the rain is totally at fault for his)).

    • sportsdrenched - May 18, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      Umm, Didn’t the Reds have to play in the same conditions?

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