Use whatever adjective you want to describe yesterday’s debacle of a Home Opener. All of them apply.
The question of who deserves the blame for the mess that transpired at the Jake yesterday afternoon is the more pressing one.
The main culprits:
The MLB schedule makers
Saying nothing of scheduling multiple games in the Midwest/Northeast in early April (while Oakland plays the Angels), the scheduling a game against a non-divisional opponent to come in for their only series in Cleveland in early April is just irresponsible. Realizing that the Spring weather in Cleveland can never be predicted (it was 81 degrees on Tuesday, then 25 degrees on Thursday), at least schedule a series with a team that can easily be made up when the team visits again in June, July, or August. With yesterday’s cancellation, the Indians and Mariners had to try to squeeze four games into three days (they have a Monday night game also) with weather that actually figures to be WORSE than Friday’s. After waking up to seeing 6 inches of snow on the ground this morning, and news that the Saturday games are cancelled, it’s looking more and more like a 161 or even 158 game season unless the Mariners are going to come in for 1 game (or more) later in the season when both teams are off.
Truth is, yesterday’s game should have never even been started. But, once it was and they were told by the meteorologists that there was an hour and a half window to finish the game before the snow arrived for good for the night, there’s no way they should have stopped the game needing one strike for an official game. Say what you will about Hargrove and his politicking, you can’t blame him for complaining. But the umps should have told him, “Listen, we’re told that this is it – it’s going to be like this for the rest of the night. Let’s just try to get through the inning and see if we can make this thing go 5 innings so we don’t have to screw around for the next 3 days getting 36 innings in.” But, they kowtowed to Grover (probably that new goatee intimidated them) and called the game. Now, with news that Saturday’s games have been cancelled and Sunday will be a traditional doubleheader (and they have to squeeze those 36 innings into 2 days) – it makes their decision to not throw one more pitch all the more short-sighted.
Some of the onus has to fall on the organization, which undoubtedly was pushing to have the Home Opener played in front of a full house. The way that those poor groundskeepers kept running out there with leaf-blowers to clear the grass, you have to think that there was a bit of grumbling from them about why the game wasn’t just called. Granted, the Home Opener is a day-long celebration; but at some point common sense has to enter the equation for fear that someone may get hurt (watching Grady track fly balls in CF through snow churned the ol’ stomach acid). That fear, ultimately, was realized.
Which brings us to the most disappointing news from Opening Day – Victor Martinez strained a quad and hit the 15-Day DL, no doubt brought on by the cold weather. This will likely prompt the Indians to call up Mike Rose to be their backup catcher while Shoppach will take over full-time duty. Rose was a FA pick-up in the off-season to provide Buffalo with a veteran catcher (Rose played 10 games for the Cardinals last year) and provide insurance in case an injury occurred.
More importantly, Martinez’s bat in the cleanup spot will be dreadfully missed as Pronk will now be protected by either Casey Blake or David Dellucci. So, basically, Pronk shouldn’t plan on seeing a strike until some point in late-April. It’s possible that Garko gets a look at C; but most reports are that his defense behind the plate is no better than his defense in the infield. If the Indians are comfortable enough to put Garko behind the plate (defensively), he can assume the cleanup spot that he performed admirably in last year when Pronk went down. Otherwise, the lineup just lost a good deal of protection for its premier hitter.
The cancellation of today’s games avoided the other possible roster shuffling as the Indians would have had to send Tom Mastny down to Buffalo to make room for Smoke ‘Em Brian Slocum so Slocum could have started the nightcap tonight. Then, Slocum would have been sent down for a reliever (likely Juan Lara) not born in Indonesia as MLB rules prohibit a team sending a player down to the minors, then recalling them back until a certain number of days has passed.
But, news that the Saturday games won’t be played avoided that mess. It’s likely that C.C. and Carmona will pitch the 2 games of the “true doubleheader” tomorrow, assuming that they can get it in. The snow is supposed to continue into Monday, so the whole scheduled series could be a wash without getting one game in.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for yesterday’s mistakes, but let’s hope that the powers that be look out for the best interests of the players when determining whether to play Sunday’s or Monday's games.
There’s already one casualty from yesterday. Let’s keep the body count at one for the weekend.
Saturday, April 07, 2007