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Big League Stew

Should home-field advantage include forecasting weather?

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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I posed this question after Wednesday's scheduled season series finale between the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies was postponed due to what Hall of Fame writer/TV analyst Tracy Ringolsby described as "an hour drizzle."

The game was scheduled to begin at 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. Roughly 35 minutes prior to that it was announced the start would be delayed as forecasts called for rain around 2 p.m.

The drizzle did arrive shortly before 2, but as Ringolsby added, both teams played through much worse conditions in Monday's sloppy game.

Regardless, it was only sensible to push the start time back based on the initial forecast. Where the Cubs lost me was their quick decision — afforded to them by rule 3.10 in baseball's rule book — to officially postpone the game just 16 minutes later based on a "dire forecast" for more rain that never materialized or even seemed likely.

By 3:05, the rain had cleared the Wrigley Field area, as any armchair meteorologist with Internet access could have predicted. By 3:30, there was no threat of more rain within sight. Had the game time been pushed back by two hours, it would have been completed without a stoppage.

That would have been nice for the fans, who booed hastily when the announcement was made official.

It also would have been nice for the Rockies, who are now forced to make a one-day stop at Wrigley Field on June 27 between a series with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium and a home series back at Coors Field with the Cleveland Indians. {YSP:MORE}

But it probably wouldn't have worked out well for the Cubs, who were set to go with young starter Casey Coleman and a depleted bullpen after playing 12 games in 12 days. Colorado was to counter with Jhoulys Chacin, who shut Chicago out at Coors Field just two weeks ago. I'm sure that provided enough incentive to roll the dice on a better matchup in two months rather than playing the hand dealt to them in two hours.

That said, I'd like to be clear that while I'm pointing the finger a lot at the Cubs in this particular instance, this isn't a direct shot at their organization. They made a decision based on a lot of factors, including player safety and their own travels to Arizona. Every other organization would have weighed the same options and based their decision accordingly.

It's the process I call into question. It's whether or not the ultimate decision should rest with an umpire, a higher official who takes the whole picture into consideration, or if it's an acceptable strategic part of the game that benefits the home team.

Personally, I'd like to see all weather-related issues handled by the umpires and/or a league official, in conjunction with a meteorologist. Much the same way the league has taken steps to remove all doubt from the humidor situation in Denver. Remove any chance to manipulate this process as well. I want the assurance that both teams' best interests are being looked after, and that home-field advantages are limited to the diamond, not the radar screen.

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