OAKLAND – Add another bizarre chapter to the story of the Oakland A’s and the place they call home.
Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners was unexpectedly postponed due to wet field conditions at the Coliseum, brought on because the infield tarp was not applied the previous night when a storm fell.
It was an embarrassing oversight at a venue that had its share of publicity black eyes because of plumbing issues and sewage leakages in the recent past.
“We got here this morning and the infield was underwater,” said David Rinetti, the A’s vice president of stadium operations. “We did everything possible starting at 7 a.m. to get the field ready for tonight. Our grounds crew worked tirelessly to get the field ready. Unfortunately, after we met with managers and umpires, it was deemed that the field wouldn’t be ready to play on.”
The 7:05 p.m. first pitch was delayed as the grounds crew continued working on the infield dirt, which was the main problem area. The weather was clear, without a trace of rain in the sky, when the postponement was announced over the P.A. system. Startled fans erupted in boos.
No makeup date was announced, but players from both teams voted against playing a doubleheader this weekend, as is their right by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Rinetti said the Coliseum grounds crew would work to try to have the field ready by Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. start time, but there was skepticism in the Mariners clubhouse about whether it would be playable. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon walked the infield and had his foot sink about two inches.
How could the tarp be left off the field?
Rinetti said the A’s had been working with a “weather consultant” this week as heavy rains have hit the East Bay. The consultant, who Rinetti didn’t want to name, advised there would be a break in the rain Thursday night and into Friday morning. Other forecasts did show that rain was a possibility.
“In the last week we’ve had probably more rain at the facility than we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Rinetti, in his 34th year with the A’s. “We wanted to use that (break in the rain) to help dry out the field. Unfortunately, we were wrong on the amount of rain, and we got about a third of an inch (Thursday) night. We did not have the tarp on the field.”
The final call not to use the tarp was made by A’s head groundskeeper Clay Wood, who has been singled out by manager Bob Melvin on numerous occasions for his fine work.
The upshot: After not having a rainout since May 1998, the A’s now have had three in one week if you count last Saturday’s exhibition against the Giants. Tuesday’s game against Cleveland was postponed and made up as part of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
But it’s tough to classify Friday’s game as a “rainout” given the circumstances under which it was canceled.
A’s general manager Billy Beane, with a touch of humor, called the incident “an unfortunate misinterpretation of the forecast.”
Then he added: “Now we’re playing catch-up, and you’ve got to place (the makeup game) in the schedule and you’re going to have to play it another time, which will stack up the schedule. It is what it is.”
A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson did not point fingers at anyone but said two rainouts in the first week of the season are detrimental.
“Mistakes are made,” he said. “… You want to get in a routine, but everything that happened in the first week is making it tougher. You’ve got to adapt.”
Melvin said Dan Straily, Friday’s scheduled starter, would go SAturday. But he didn’t announce Sunday’s starter. Melvin could bring back Opening Night man Sonny Gray on five days’ rest and then decide when to slot in fifth starter Tommy Milone, who normally would follow Straily.
The team announced that tickets for Friday’s game will be valid for the still-to-be announced makeup date.