RAIN DELAYS ARE PART OF THE GAME
Over this past weekend the Nationals played host to the Mets at RFK in a game played under the worst weather conditions I have seen in a long time. Living in the area, I can attest that the night was miserable. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the field was puddling before it was covered with the tarp.
In most rain delay situations, everyone (even the broadcasters)become an authority on field conditions and "when to" or "not to" put out the rain cover. I can guarantee that if the decision to cover the field was left up to the grounds crew they would have put it out a lot earlier than when the umpire or even Frank (Robinson)called for it… but that’s not the rule. Once the line up cards are passed, the decision to play or not is totally up to the umpire. In most cases the umpire consults closely with the ground crew throughout the game. Its a huge responsibility that the umpire shoulders in big games, with big crowds.
As far as the RFK field goes, one must remember that it is used by two pro-teams and requires numerous Field transformations. Pointing fingers at the field is not right either. The field is fine and Jimmy Rodgers, (Head GK) does a great job taking care of a two -team field, in an old stadium, that was literally thrown together in a course of a few months.
Bottom line is that when it rains on any field, and you have to save the game, things are going to happen that are based on a judgment call. In most cases, even that decision, is out of your control because predicting the weather is not an exact science.
The one issue, that must be at the forefront in all rain delay situations, is the safety of the athlete. That rule holds its value from the recreation leagues to the professional leagues.
Rain delays are part of the game of baseball. When the USA Olympic team won the gold medal in 2000, everyone can point to a specific game that put the USA in the gold medal round against Cuba. It was a game played under several rain delays against Korea. Doug Mientkiewicz belted a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning – after a two-hour rain delay – to stun Korea 3-2 at Sydney Olympic Park. Our ground crew did a great job getting that game in.
Sometimes rain delays have Cinderella stories! It just goes to show you, things can go either way when it rains.