Baltimore Orioles: Should MLB handle delays and weather?

Unless you count Chris Davis going 0-for-4 as Delmarva’s DH last night in his final rehab start, there’s not much going on for the Baltimore Orioles. I wouldn’t worry too much about Davis not hitting minor league pitching. Rehab starts are all about getting back into the groove of playing, and making sure that the player feels okay physically. Davis will be playing first base for the Orioles tomorrow night when the season resumes.

But with the league in essence shut down, there was an interesting situation last week down in D.C. regarding a weather delay. Fans will remember that the Orioles themselves were the “victims” of a rain-out a Nationals Park in May, on a night when it was barely raining. It had rained all day, and in buckets at that. But when 7 PM came around, it was merely a light drizzle.

Similarly last week, Washington delayed the start of their game against Atlanta due to the potential of a system being in the area. Long story short, it rained for about 15 minutes total, and the game began just after 10 PM. For much of the delay, the field wasn’t even covered.

In the Orioles’ case, the idea that Washington did this as a matter of gamesmanship was insinuated lightly. In essence it was “hinted at.” But Atlanta came right out and said that they think it was handled the way it was as a matter of gamesmanship. Now on one hand, weather isn’t an exact science, and teams can only use the information that they’ve given. That should go without saying. But on the other hand, due to the way the rules are there is the chance that a team could do that.

In the Orioles’ case I don’t think there was any other reason to reschedule the game than a wet field and less-than-ideal conditions. Because the way it was rescheduled had Washington surrendering their off day following a long west coast trip. Not exactly ideal for the home team.

But that aside, the issue in my mind is that in all weather delays, the decision is literally left up to the home team. That is until the umpire says PLAY BALL! Once that happens (in essence once the game starts), delays are decided by the umpiring crew – mainly the crew chief. I would submit that should be the case uniformly and across-the-board.

I believe that cancellations are decided upon by the two teams and the umpiring crew, however the simple act of delaying the start of the game is up to the home team. I suspect that most teams do consult with the visitors and perhaps even the umpires as well in these cases, however the decision soley rests with the home team.

MLB needs to change this so as to avoid the semblance of a team delaying a game and hoping for a cancellation for selfish reasons. Regardless of the motives, Washington really botched this situation last week. They didn’t communicate at all with fans other than saying thanks for your patience, and by the time they finally saw fit to start the game, most fans were literally at home in bed.

Removing the home team from this decision and resting it with MLB would alleviate situations like these. Washington isn’t the only team that’s had this happened. Numerous teams have lengthy rain delays only to start the game well after it’s scheduled time. But perhaps the league making that decision would add just a bit of common sense to the mix.

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