As you may have heard, the Mariners/Indians game at Jacobs Field was snowed out today, the teams completing just shy of 4 1/2 innings before the weather got the best of them. While the game, and Paul Byrd’s no-hitter, never happened officially, the Tribe can’t wipe out the worst news of the day so easily. Catcher Victor Martinez left the game with a left quad strain, and it’s not clear how much time he’ll miss.
Sympathy for Martinez is easy to come by. Sympathy for the Indians, however, should be in short supply. They have been the worst offender in the modern trend towards playing baseball games in weather not fit for man nor beast. Since Jacobs Field opened in 1994, the Indians have routinely forced their fans to sit through rain delays of two hours or more, and nasty, wet weather once the game gets underway, rather than calling the game and potentially sacrificing the ticket revenue. There are other reasons why games like today’s get played–the difficulty of rescheduling them in an unbalanced-schedule/interleague-play environment was certainly a factor in today’s silliness, as the Mariners don’t return to Cleveland in 2007–but the desire to avoid rain checks or refunds is chief among them. This is an aggressively anti-fan approach, one that forces the paying customer to choose between sitting in the rain for hours or eating his investment in the ticket. Today’s game never should have started; in fact, it should have been called in the morning, before the fans started for the park. That the Indians chose to even try to get it in is an affront to everyone who held a ticket.
In light of their involvement in the outcome, it’s hard to sympathize much with how they were denied the win. Up 4-0 in the top of the fifth, Byrd had two outs and a 1-2 count on Jose Lopez, one strike away from an official game. Mariners’ manager Mike Hargrove picked this point to come out and argue that the snow was hampering visibility; whether it was or wasn’t, things deteriorated while he was making his case, and umpire Rick Reed called for the grounds crew without Byrd throwing another pitch. The game never resumed.
Now, I wasn’t there, and I get that there’s a safety issue. Honestly, though…with one strike to an official game and the manager down by four runs blatantly stalling, I don’t think you can call the game unless a fat guy in a red suit slides into second base and starts handing out presents. Let’s hope the Tribe wins the makeup, or failing that, doesn’t see their season come down to needing one win. Because they had one taken away today.