WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals found themselves on the wrong end of some strange happenstance Thursday evening, delaying their home game against the Braves by more than three hours in anticipation of some weather which never came.
The delay was announced at 6:40 p.m., 25 minutes prior to the scheduled 7:05 first pitch. At 9:35, two-and-a-half hours after the originally scheduled first pitch, and 35 minutes still until the actual first pitch, fans were provided with an update:
It is our sincere hope that we will be able to play tonight’s game. The weather system that we have been monitoring is beginning to reach the ballpark and should pass through shortly. It is our hope that once it moves out we will be able to play. Thank you for your patience.
Visiting media members did not hold back their anger as the nightmare unfolded.
The Braves television announcers, Chip Caray and Joe Simpson, railed particularly hard against the Nationals.
“Well, this is as terrifying a weather front as we have seen in a Major League ballpark in a long, long time,” Caray painted the scene on FOX Sports Southeast. “It is approaching an hour for our rain delay, or our weather delay, here in Washington, D.C. and not a drop of rain has fallen.”
“Both Gio Gonzalez and Mike Foltynewicz, about an hour and 20 minutes ago, came back from their bullpens and went into the clubhouses because we’ve been told, Joe, that weather is approaching Washington,” he said. “It should get here around 9 o’clock tonight. Our game time scheduled to start at 7:05 tonight.”
“This is a travesty. This really is,” Simpson said. “I hope MLB looks into this, because this is a blatant abuse of gamesmanship by the Nationals, in my opinion. As you see, there’s no tarp on the field. There’s the tarp — it’s still got it’s cover on it. It’s not even unrolled in anticipation of any rain that, as you said, is expected to get here not until 9 o’clock, if it gets here.”
“We could have already five or six innings by the time the rain might get here,” he continued. “They’re calling it a weather delay; there’s no anticipation of weather. This is all about the Nationals fearing they might start the game and lose Gio Gonzalez, and then have the game started later, where they’d have to go to their bullpen, which we all know is the worst in baseball. This is a horrible attempt by the Nationals to manipulate this.”
In complete fairness to the Nationals, strong storms were forecast for the region, though that didn’t stop the ribbing, including some from a random Dallas-Fort Worth meteorologist, and a Braves outfielder.
As Dan Steinberg detailed, the Nats eventually offered free soda, water and novelty ice cream to fans who stuck it out through the delay, and the game was eventually played, resulting in a 5-2 Braves victory.
The Nats made an additional on-the-spot concession, allowing fans who had already exited the ballpark to re-enter after the delay, which went over about how you’d expect on social media. Not helping matters, a mere seven minutes later an announcement was made reminding fans the last Metro train would be departing in 21 minutes.
Mike Rizzo, the team’s GM and President of Baseball Operations, released the following statement, transcribed below by Barry Svrluga.