WASHINGTON - While attempting to fit in their Saturday doubleheader between raindrops, the Chicago Cubs are still wondering why their game against the Washington Nationals wasn't played on Friday night.
"If you want the true story, contact MLB," manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. "It was confusing to us, also. We played when we should not have and then not played when we should have."
The teams waited out a 1:21 delay to begin the game on Friday only to play 1 2/3 innings before the rains came again. This time, they stuck around for almost three more hours, forcing a cancellation, but curiously only after the rain ceased at about 11:30 p.m. ET. The Cubs were ready to play then.
"We waited as long as we did, and the skies were absolutely clear from that moment [11:30 p.m.] on, and they said they could not be sure there would not be another pop-up [storm]," Maddon said. "I'm beyond an amateur meteorologist and I could see it wasn't going to rain anymore, so it was kind of confusing to us also."
Starter Jon Lester pitched just one inning, so he'll come back on short rest on Monday to face the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Also at issue was whether the teams would play a split doubleheader on Saturday or a single-ticket admission. The Nationals wanted a day/night affair.
"We've already played three of those [split doubleheaders]," player rep Kris Bryant said. "It's our right [per the CBA] to want a straight doubleheader. We ended up getting it, but we had to wait here for a while."
Bryant isn't an advocate of playing baseball past midnight, but it's the lesser of two evils, compared to a late postponement and then a doubleheader just a few hours later. And now even that has been delayed by rain on Saturday.
"I'm just as confused too," Bryant said. "From the player's perspective, when you play games at 1 or 2 in the morning, you are going to get the worst possible baseball. But either call it early or just play."
Sunday calls for even more rain, which may cause more headaches as Sunday is the last meeting between the teams. They have a common off day on Thursday, but that was going to be the Cubs first off-day in 24 days. There are no good options, which is why Maddon wanted to get the game in on Friday at all costs.
"It was unfortunate, because we made it clear in the beginning we were willing to wait and play," he said. "We had no issues with starting at 11:30."