Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One Word for Rain Delays-Booooooo

At least with snow, you know it's postponed

It never fails. You sit down with your significant other, and you plan a nice family day at the ballpark. You go on line and order your tickets, take a vacation day, pay the dog walker, fill up your gas tank, and get ready for the next day. You wake up and notice it's cloudy, so you check the weather forecast and it states “20% chance of rain”. You take the gamble, get everyone packed up, and head out for an afternoon at Hadlock. As soon as you unpack the kids, you feel it, a little drop of rain on your arm. You start to get a little nervous, but hey a 20% chance of rain should mean a little shower won't last, right? You would think that, but once you get inside, and hand the usher your ticket, you can hear the rain falling, and it's only 30 minutes to first pitch. Your son and daughter are asking you when they can see the baseball players , and if you say “I don't know” you are going to have to spend $300 at the concession and souvenir stands to keep this situation from getting ugly. The above situation is fiction, and probably a little dramatic, but it could happen to anyone. So what exactly goes into a rain delay (outside of the rain)? Here is your chance to find out, as I asked Sea Dogs assistant GM Chris Cameron the ins and outs of a rain delay.

The first question I had was how much influence the weather forecasts have? “They obviously play a factor but we do not rely on them. We have seen forecasts that called for torrential downpours and yet it turned out to be sunny. It would be horrible to call a game based on a forecast and have the weather turn out beautiful. We tend to deal with actual conditions rather than forecasts. We do have our own weather satellite system here at the ballpark and we are constantly monitoring it. We can almost tell you to the minute when it is going to start/stop raining”, said Cameron, which makes me wonder if maybe a Sea Dogs intern should be doing the local weather at times. There also isn't just one person with their finger on the cancel button, Cameron mentioned that it “varies depending on situation. Up until the game starts, in most cases, the decision is up to the General Manager. Once the game is underway the decision is in the umpire's hands. However, in a situation like Sunday, when it is the last time you play a team for the season, the decision must be a joint decision between the General Manager, the umpires, and the Eastern League office. Eastern League rules also state that in that scenario 'every effort must be made to play the game.' Rarely will any type of decision be made without input form the General Manager, umpires, league officials, and the field managers of both teams.”

The time limit is kind of loose. When asked if there was a time limit on these things, Cameron replied “Not really, if there is a chance to get a game in, league rules require that you wait, keeping in mind that you are unable to start an inning after 1:00 AM. You are forced to wait longer in situations like Sunday, attempting to 'make every effort to play the game.' The longest delay that we have ever had was 3.5 hours, the fans that waited it out were treated to the first no-hitter in Sea Dogs history.” I also asked if when David Ortiz was in town, if the rain delay treatment was any different. The answer Cameron gave was“No” (direct quote). Some times, games that were scheduled for Hadlock have to be rescheduled during the season at the other team's stadium, which means for the original home team, “that revenue is lost”. The last thing I asked was in regards to the situation on Sunday, when a double header with first place Trenton was canceled, in other words, no make-up date anywhere. The Sea Dogs are in second place, so I asked if this sort of thing happened often and if it could come back to affect the playoff race, to which Cameron replied “It doesn't happen often that games need to be canceled. It is unlikely that it will effect the playoff race but the possibility does exist.” As long as game is goes less than 4 and half innings (5 if the home team is behind) your ticket may be exchanged for another of equal or lesser value to any remaining home game, and you can check the status of a Sea Dogs home game by going to seadogs.com or listening to the Dogs flagship station, WBAE 1490. So fear not, you can take another vacation day very soon.



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