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Why did it take seven hours for the Nats to postpone yesterday’s game?

Sep 17, 2013, 9:16 AM EDT

Shooting At Washington DC Navy Yard Reportedly Leaves Several Wounded Getty Images

It wasn’t until after 3pm yesterday afternoon that the Nationals officially announced the postponement of their game with the Braves in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings. Before that there were a lot of mixed signals — first Nats players and coaches were told to stay away from the park, then they were told to come and did show up — with many people wondering how they could play a game in the wake of the nearby chaos.

Today Adam Kilgore and James Wagner report about the communications and decision making process that went into the postponement. It’s a good story that shows you just how complicated such decisions are.

Actually, not so much how complicated the decisions are — I think, after a short time, everyone was on the same page — but how complicated carrying out the decisions are.

  1. DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    “There’s a lot of [logistics] that go into cancelling a game for these reasons,” Rizzo said. “We have to be in contact with federal authorities and the D.C. authorities to have a coordinated effort. And then whenever you cancel a game, MLB is involved, and we have to go through the correct procedures for that.”

    You have to be in contact with the Feds? Bullshit. Pick up the phone, call Bud, say you want the game postponed and it is a done deal. He is not going to ask for a note from the FBI.

    It is 100% a baseball call – he did not in any way shape or from need to be in contact with the Feds. Turn on the news and it is a no brainer to postpone

    • kopy - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Feds, no, but it helps to be in contact with the authorities. The 35W bridge collapsed an hour before a Twins game, and Police and DoT asked the Twins to play anyway. The thought was it would be worse to send all the fans back out into traffic than to hold them for a few hours. Then they cancelled the next day’s game.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        I agree they should be in contact – but the notion they can not cancel until they get word from them is absurd.

        Even the Nats players thought it was wrong to play. Total brain cramp by the Front Office

      • Old Gator - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:12 AM

        You’re kinda tightly wound this morning, DPF. Rizzo said “coordinate,” not “ask for permission.” As in, our parking lots are right up against the crime scene. How do we steer folks who show up anyway because they didn’t know we canceled? How do we manage traffic? How much of the stadium property do you guys need to set up medical or C&C facilities? Rizzo is just being responsible during a chaotic time and with a lot to manage on his plate. Go take a cold shower.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

        @gator – then you are reading something into my post that I did not say. Rizzo et al are under criticism from Nats fans for not postponing sooner. Read the article – he blames the delay on the need to coordinate with the feds. That is ridiculous, he could have cancelled the game any time he wanted.

      • Old Gator - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM

        No, he can’t. Not without approval from the league office, at any rate. There’s more going on here than a simple decision to cancel. A lot of this bellyaching is just criticism for its own sake.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        “No, he can’t. Not without approval from the league office, at any rate.”

        @gator – at least read what I wrote. I said if he called Bud and said he wants the game cancelled, it would have been cancelled. Instantly. Do you disagree? And while I can not speak for the FBI, typically speaking they are in favor of NOT having 40,000 people flood a crime scene…so can’t see much red-tape there either

        And by the way, having an opinion is what boards are for. So stop this “Oh me-oh my…you are belly aching because you have an opinion” Please.

      • Old Gator - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Do I disagree that Bud would have cancelled immediately? Yes, frankly – it’s Bud we’re talking about – but that too is an oversimplification. I doubt if you just “call Bud.” I assume there must be channels to go through the league office. But even so, Bud is Mr. Wait and See. Where money is involved, yeah, I can see him dithering – or, if not dithering exactly, deciding to wait till some of the smoke clears before making a decision. But rushing to one? That’s not his style.

        But my main problem with all of this is watching people with no real inside track on what was going on passing all these self-righteous judgments on the Gnats F/O. Rizzo isn’t especially well-liked beyond the confines of Gnatsdome, and I also smell a lot of lingering animosity towards him for entirely other reasons masquerading as a response to this particular circumstance.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        “I also smell a lot of lingering animosity towards him for entirely other reasons masquerading as a response to this particular circumstance”

        I can only speak for myself. I am a fan a of logic. I don’t like someone pissing in a cup and telling me it’s lemonade.

      • 1ambetterthanyou - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        To conclude they couldn’t cancer the game without some type of MLB permission is absurd. Had there been a mass shooting in the parking lot of the stadium right before the game, they would have cancelled it immediately.

        They look at this as an opportunity to milk some more money from the fans. Hell, they probably had booths already setup to start selling souvenir battleships or sailors.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Well, to cancel the game they probably don’t need governmental permission. If they wanted to try to play it, they probably did (to be allowed down there even).

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        Exactly. The front office wanted to play. The Players didn’t

      • Old Gator - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        More like, the front office felt obligated to play by a whole host of reasons, not the least of which was getting permission from the league to cancel and the insane complexity of coordinating personnel in a chaotic situation. Casting Rizzo and the other execs as a bunch of heartless automatons and the players as a bunch of sensitive little angels is a cheap shot.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        If it was me, I would cancel and if Budster wanted to kick about it, I’d tell him I’d make it a public fight and give him the worst bad publicity he never wanted. Some processes must bend for the sake of safety. I really can’t believe MLB doesn’t have a fast track procedure for such things.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Probably just poorly worded–I think the talks with the authorities, Feds and police, was to see if holding the game would be feasible/interfere with the investigation. If they had wanted to cancel up front, then I agree that they could have done so without law enforcement.

    • emdash01 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      You don’t think MLB has a bureaucratic procedure for postponing games? What about the MLB offices has given you the impression that they just make a quick decision about anything, ever, no matter what the situation? The team, as a subsidiary of the league, can’t just make its own calls.

      Anyway, getting outraged because it took a few extra hours to make a decision that everyone agrees with the correct one, when nothing was actually hurt, seems pretty bizarre to me.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        You don’t think MLB wouldn’t fast track the process for something like that? If not, that there’s your security problem. My school has a procedure in place to handle cancellations and to deal with intruder threats in an effort to make our response quick and effective. MLB has never coordinated with the feds on this issue post-9/11? You want to be slow postponing for a rain delay — not for a security threat.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

        Sorry, but the only outrage here is from Nats fans (and Old Gator for some odd reason). I simply called it B.S., which it is

        If at 10:00 AM Rizzo called Bud and said “I want to cancel”, the game would have been cancelled. You apparently believe Bud would have said “Ok, I’ll think about it and let you know”

      • Old Gator - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        Well, it is Bud, after all….

        I’m not “outraged.” I think too many folks are sitting safely off on the sidelines grossly oversimplifying the whole process and underestimating the complexity of the situation, and firing off cheap shots at the Nationals F/O when they weren’t even remotely close to the issues involved.

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      There is a lot more that goes into cancelling an event the magnitude of a professional baseball game than just saying “yep, it’s cancelled!”

      There are tens of thousands of people who have scheduled their days around this. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands (I’m not sure) of employees whose work schedules need to be considered and perhaps even rescheduled or reimbursed. There is a game that will have to be rescheduled. There has to be consideration that not everyone will find out about the cancellation and what you do for people who show up. In this event, you need to consider the safety of those people as well.

      In short, there are tons of factors that need to be considered and acted upon, more beyond just those that I mentioned too.

      I highly doubt there was ever serious consideration to the game ever being played. However, there were so many things that needed to be taken care of before the official word can come out.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        According to the article, the Nats personnel were first told to stay home, then around 1:00 in the afternoon, that was changed to saying they should report. So if they were not considering playing, why would they change and tell them to report?

        As for picking a date to make it up – why would that first need to be determined? Games are postponed all the time without a firm make up date

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        “Games are postponed all the time without a firm make up date”

        There have been 19 postponed games this year, including last night’s.

        There are 2,430 games in a year.

        Hardly “all the time”.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        Games that are postponed virtually never have the make up date determined prior to the announcement, so there is no reason the Nats would have to have a make up date determined in adavnce

    • kevinbnyc - Sep 17, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      You have absolutely no clue how any of this is handled, clearly, and that’s why people are giving you crap for it. Maybe they do have to be in contact with law enforcement. Maybe Rizzo DID call Bud. Maybe Vladimir Putin gets to weigh in. Who knows.

      If your issue is with transparency, fine, but if you’re just looking for an excuse to rail on a division rival, maybe pick a better time.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        What makes you think this is railing on a division rival? That’s a stretch, I think. Why is everyone freaking out about criticism on this? I don’t get it.

      • kevinbnyc - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        The criticizer-in-chief’s handle is DelawarePhilliesFan. There seems to be an awful lot of anger about the whole situation coming from someone who (I’m relatively confident here) was not going to the game and was not put in harms way as a result of trying to go to the game prior to its cancellation. Sprinkle in the general disdain that Philadelphia fans tend to grace Washingtonians with, and I don’t think it’s a stretch at all.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:58 PM

        Glad you aren’t getting angry or anything….sorry my opinions bother you so

        I am sure Adam Kilgore got his facts correct, and my comments are based on what he wrote

      • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I think you’re kinda stereotyping there, but, you know, I don’t have a dog in that fight.

  2. 1ambetterthanyou - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Maybe this was the only way the Nats could get fans to the game. Kind of like seeing a car crash – come for the game, and watch a few bodies get carried away.

    Seems like good business.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      You’re projecting, junior. The rest of us are not like you. Don’t assume that what works for you will work on the rest of us. We aren’t missing a sense of decency like you.

    • cur68 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Could you get lost? You’re on here making dick-ish comments about a tragedy. Go pick your nose quietly somewhere, you fool.

    • zzalapski - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      What the hell is wrong with you?

      (Rhetorical question, as one would have to quote the DSM-5 extensively for an actual account.)

    • raysfan1 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:02 PM

      Don’t bother responding to this guy any more. He was on one of the threads yesterday too, essentially deriding us all for wasting our time on baseball blogs even though he is here wasting his and everyone else’s time on baseball blogs. He is nothing but another lame troll–or possibly one that has been banned before back under a new handle.

  3. inserthandle - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Washington has recently assembled an impressive array of PR masterstrokes. Refusing to pay for extended Metro service. Taking more than a month to refund NLCS and World Series ticket-holders. Reneging on rainout exchanges. Maybe refusing to postpone a game due to be played hours after and blocks away from DC’s worst loss-of-life tragedy in three decades was going to be their coup de grâce.

    Somehow this organization fielded a 98-win team last year.

    • voteforno6 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      You certainly seem to be reading your own agenda into this. Also, either you are incredibly ignorant, or incredibly dumb, but this was not DC’s worst tragedy in three decades.

      • inserthandle - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        The Post: “It was the worst loss of life within the District’s borders since the 1982 Air Florida crash.”

        Tragedies far worse emanate from Washington on a daily basis, of course. But tragedies IN Washington….

      • emdash01 - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        That’s an odd bit of sophistry on the Post’s part, then, to exclude the much larger loss of life in the Pentagon on 9/11.

      • 1ambetterthanyou - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        You only need to look back to November of 2008 and 2012 for the worst tragedies that took place in DC.

      • chacochicken - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        The Pentagon is in VA, not the district.

      • inserthandle - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:50 AM

        I don’t think it’s sophistry, when surveying the history of loss-of-life incidents in the District of Columbia, to acknowledge that the Pentagon is located in the state of Virginia.

      • jwbiii - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM

        to exclude the much larger loss of life in the Pentagon on 9/11

        The Pentagon is in Virginia, not DC.

    • Utley's Hair - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      That’s Gnatitude for ya.

  4. Todd Boss - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I took the NFL two days to announce the cancellation of games after 9/11. As the article states, it’s tough to cancel sporting events whose schedules are announced months in advance.

    Rizzo probably had to talk to the feds because they had locked down that entire part of the city. The Navy Yard is literally a few blocks from the stadium and police had already commandeered stadium parking lots as areas where evacuated staff were being moved to.

  5. alexandercartwright - Sep 17, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I believe the game was still canceled 4 hours before first. Sounds like something far to common in today’s society, fake outrage

  6. numbskull111 - Sep 17, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Some of the Nats stadium lots were being used as places where Navy workers were being reunited with their families, catching rides home, etc. The entire area around the Navy Yard (next to the stadium) was considered a crime scene and being worked by law enforcement and other first responders.

    Rizzo’s contact with the Feds may not have been to get permission to cancel yesterday’s game….but to find out the logistics for rescheduling the game this week….i.e. at what point do you think it will be logistically feasible to bring 30k people down near the Navy Yard (tomorrow, Weds, etc.)

    Also, before you keep bashing the Nats….several officials (police, etc.) have publicly thanked the Nats organization for the use of their facilities as well as providing food/drinks to the people working the scene and others affected in that area.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      Thank you, you and Todd Boss above both made my point better than I did.

  7. NatsLady - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Please stop. The important thing here is the victims who DIED!!!! The people who were killed as they went about their jobs! The officer who may never walk again because he was shot in the legs trying to stop the shooter. The security guard…. Who cares how long it took Rizzo and MLB to cancel the game. Really, stop and remember that it could have been you in your office, your cafeteria getting breakfast.

    • 1ambetterthanyou - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      Oh please..spare us the theatrics, improper punctuation, and poor grammar.

      Just to clarify though, are you saying that you can only be a victim if you die?

  8. psousa1 - Sep 17, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Or maybe it was because baseball was not on the forefront of everyone’s mind

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