A stretch of bad weather has put the Chicago Cubs in a difficult position schedule wise, and manager Joe Maddon is not pleased with how Major League Baseball is handling the situation.
After taking on the Milwaukee Brewers in a critical division game Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Maddon’s Cubs will grab their packed overnight bags for a quick trip to Washington D.C. for a makeup game against the Nationals.
The rescheduled game means the Cubs will have a stretch of 30 consecutive days in which they’re required to report to the ballpark for a scheduled game. According to Maddon, that’s a workload the league should try to avoid putting on the players, regardless of the unique and unexpected circumstances.
“Even if it was 72 degrees and balmy, that would not matter,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game. “It’s about 30 consecutive days. I think that’s not being spoken about enough.”
“The emphasis is on the weather and rightfully so, Maddon added. “It’s a hurricane, and it’s going to impact a lot of lives. That’s a totally different subject and one that’s much more worthwhile. For us, in a baseball world, playing 30 consecutive days, that’s the difficult part. For me, I don’t think that’s been discussed enough regarding whether to play or not. Everybody is making it into a weather-related issue. For me, it’s a 30-day issue. That’s my bigger concern.”
What led to the Cubs scheduling nightmare?
Rainy weather in Washington D.C. wreaked havoc on the Cubs and Nationals series this past weekend. The scheduled three-game series included more than 10 hours of rain delays over three days.
On Friday, the teams spent several hours at odds over whether they should continue after playing one inning in the rain. MLB and the player’s union were reportedly involved in those discussions. That postponement turned into a split doubleheader on Saturday, which required both teams to waive their season limit on split doubleheaders. The doubleheader was eventually completed late Saturday evening, but Sunday’s game never started.
With the Cubs leaving town Sunday night, and with Thursday being the only mutual open date remaining on their schedules, it was selected as the makeup date.
The looming threat of Hurricane Florence adds another layer of anxiety on the Cubs part. While the D.C. area is not expected to feel the brunt of the storm, there’s a chance for thunderstorms. The Cubs would rather not travel to Washington D.C. if there’s any threat of a delay or even a postponement again on Thursday. However, we’re now past the point of not traveling being an option.
Maddon went on record Tuesday stating that the game should have been moved to Oct. 1 regardless, because that would give the Cubs a needed day off.
In that scenario, it’s possible the rescheduled game could have been dropped completely if the Cubs postseason spot was locked in at season’s end. As it stands now, the Cubs still have some work to do to lock up a postseason spot. Squeezing in an extra game, and especially the extra travel, won’t make things any easier.
Buying time and rest
To combat the grueling schedule somewhat, the Cubs say they will not be traveling with a complete roster for Thursday’s game. They will not be bringing any extra starting pitchers on the trip. They also plan to leave behind any relief pitchers who would not be available, as well as Kyle Schwarber, who’s currently battling back issues. Because of expanded rosters in September, the Cubs should still have enough flexibility roster wise.
The Cubs have also reached an agreement with the city of Chicago to push back the start time of Friday’s home game against the Cincinnati Reds from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. That will allow the team some extra rest after arriving home.
The Cubs needed permission from the city per their agreement for limited night games and other night activities hosted at Wrigley Field, such as concerts.
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