The weather in Washington D.C. has been a source of contention between the Washington Nationals, their opponents, Major League Baseball and even the player’s union over the last few years.
That trend continued Friday as Nationals players and the visiting Chicago Cubs were reportedly at odds over the decision to start, stop and ultimately postpone their game at a point when the rain had actually stopped falling.
How it all played out
After the teams waited an hour and 20 minutes to start the game, it was delayed again after one inning when another batch of rain hit the stadium. Over the next three hours, a back and forth took place involving player representatives for both teams, the league itself, and the players union, to determine the proper course of action, according to the Washington Post
It was ultimately decided to postpone the game, wiping out the brief starts by Chicago’s Jon Lester and Washington’s Joe Ross. Because both teams had already reached their limits for split doubleheaders this season, they had to agree to another one on Saturday. In getting to that point, it sounds like both sides butted heads a bit to make their respective cases.
The Cubs wanted to play
Cubs manager Maddon said Saturday that his team was prepared to wait all night in order to finish the game and avoid a doubleheader.
“Played when we shouldn’t have, then did not play when we should have. I, um, I voiced my opinion at the appropriate moment,” Maddon said before Saturday’s doubleheaders. “We wanted to play last night. We wanted two one-gamers. We waited as long as we did, then the skies were absolutely clear from that moment on. And they said they could not be sure there would not be another pop up, which, I’m beyond an amateur meteorologist, I can see that it wasn’t going to rain anymore. So, kind of confusing to us also.”
With the Cubs in the middle of a pennant race, they obviously don’t want to bunch up too many games in a short period of time. Losing a Jon Lester start Friday was tough enough. Now they’ll have to rely heavily on their bullpen and September callups to help them navigate the doubleheader.
It’s understandable that the Cubs took a long time to budge, but the Nationals argument eventually won out.
The Nationals were concerned about player safety
According to the Washington Post, Nationals players were reluctant to resume the game for a couple big reasons. The biggest being player safety. Those concerns stemmed from a game last season when Bryce Harper was injured after slipping on a wet first base. Harper suffered a bone bruise to his knee, though the injury had the potential to be much worse.
A wet field is obviously always a danger to the players. It makes sense to exercise caution, though the Cubs were obviously willing to risk those dangers to avoid overloading their pitching staff.
According to Sean Doolittle, who filled in as the Nationals team representative after Max Scherzer left the ballpark early to rest for his start on Saturday, the unpredictable weather in Washington D.C. played a part too.
“The Cubs were kind of holding out hope that we were going to catch a window a little bit later. We were like, no. The weather here? Trust us. Once it starts, sometimes it doesn’t stop,” Doolittle said.
This isn’t the Nationals first weather controversy
On July 7, 2017, the Nationals faced criticism after delaying a game against the Atlanta Braves for three hours despite very little rain ever actually falling. Some dubbed that a “light drizzle” delay.
One month later, the Nationals made a wise decision by postponing a game against the San Francisco Giants. Rain had fallen throughout the day, and the forecast during the game suggested they wouldn’t be able to find a window. The problem there was that Washington delayed making the official announcement until after the players and broadcasters had already left the ballpark.
Earlier this season, Bryce Harper’s wife even called the team out over a questionable decision.
Because of the circumstances, we can’t really point the finger over Friday’s decision at a team or a single official. But it’s definitely another weird chapter in the Nationals weather drama.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Dan Wetzel: Eagles borrowed play from Patriots’ playbook in triumphant return
• Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad a hit, according to commercial analyst
• Top 5 college games to watch this weekend
• Chris Mannix: Ultimate underdog Steve Nash gets HOF spotlight