Constable: Once a friend, rain keeps Cubs from clinching
The Chicago Cubs famously used a rain delay before the 10th inning of Game 7 in last year's World Series to refocus, recharge and win the championship. On Tuesday, merely the "forecast of inclement weather" scuttled the Cubs' opportunity to clinch the National League division series. The game was delayed before the rain even started, and it was postponed officially an hour later, before Cubs' starting pitcher Jake Arrieta could take the mound. Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said Arrieta would pitch Wednesday's makeup game, which starts at 3:08 p.m., and Washington Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said he'd stick with Tanner Roark instead of giving the ball to Game 1 starter Stephen Strasburg.
A giant, white tarp was spread over the infield at Wrigley Field at 4:15 p.m., 23 minutes before the game was scheduled to start. During the regular season, the tarp covering the Wrigley Field infield looks like a giant piece of aluminum foil with the Reynolds Wrap logo, thanks to a partnership with Lake Forest-based Reynolds Consumer Products. That wasn't the case Tuesday. "They flip it over," explained Lisa Burns, vice president of marketing for Reynolds, which does not have a partnership with Major League Baseball.
"The postseason is all MLB, and the MLB charges a whole lot more than the Cubs do," Burns said. "We always cheer for rain, but we'd rather have a win than the rain."
While fans were talking about how an earlier starting time might have allowed the teams to finish the action before the rains came, television logistics dictated the start time.
Both teams took batting practice before the tarp came out. A strong wind blowing in from center field kept most balls in the park and even blew over the netting protecting the batting-practice pitcher. Heaters were on in the dugout, and many fans were huddled under blankets as the wind made it seem colder than the 62 degrees.
The weather also cut into the business for professional photographer Michelle Hull of Elgin, who roams Wrigley Field taking photos for fans.
"I did really good in sales yesterday when it was sunny," Hull said. "Today, not as many people want photographs."
The 36-year-old photographer wore an umbrella hat to protect her camera. "I ran back home to get it," said Hull, who kept a close eye on the weather maps.
So did Major League Baseball officials, who officially postponed the game after seeing a long line of rain was expected throughout the night.
If the Cubs lose Wednesday's game, the deciding Game 5 will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday in Washington.
If the Cubs win either of those games, the team will start the best-of-seven National League championship series Saturday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Regardless of whether the Cubs would welcome one or not, rain delays in Southern Carlifornia are highly unlikely.