By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel already used “Weathergate” to describe it. Brewers general manager David Stearns isn’t saying but is just saying. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell slathered it in sarcasm.
On Saturday, two hours before the scheduled 1:20 p.m. first pitch, the Cubs prematurely postponed the game at Wrigley Field due to the supposed threat of rain that never hit the ballpark following a super-soaked Friday loss to the Brewers. I heard of the postponement about an hour before first pitch as I left a South Side graduation ceremony — in the rain.
The fix was clearly in on a Saturday that featured “The Final Out” bobblehead giveaway that was sure to pack the house. We know that the uber-rich Ricketts family probably used several of those bobbleheads to smoke a kangaroo or something at the family compound while 40,000 dejected fans shuffled away and care less about the hit at the gate that calling the game resulted in.
Let’s call a spade a spade here: The Cubs are cheaters. And as such, serious consideration needs to be put into adding an asterisk to both their 2016 World Series championship and the one they’ll probably win in 2017.
This isn’t darkening up the ball with spit and dirt or putting bowls of amphetamines in the clubhouse or excluding African Americans — which was all previously acceptable across all MLB organizations and created a level playing field league-wide. The weather forecast is sacred in baseball. And the Cubs deflated it.
“Clearly, the Cubs were looking at a weather forecast that made them think it was going to rain,” Stearns said Sunday. “Our weather forecast did not indicate that. I think there were five or seven other forecasts that also did not indicate that. Ultimately, it’s the Cubs’ call.
“We were a little surprised the game was called as early as it was. I’m sure they had their reasons to do it. Obviously, it didn’t rain. So, from our standpoint, we would have preferred to play yesterday. I talked with some guys with the Cubs. They knew how we felt. That’s one of the earliest games I’ve ever been involved with that was called. That surprised me a little bit.”
It shouldn’t surprise that Cubs manager Joe Maddon — a individual who has turned to pitchers playing the outfield to win games — would play fast and loose with the forecast.
“I didn’t know that at the time because I was still in the apartment,” Maddon said, per the Journal-Sentinel. “But it’s just like the day before. Everything indicated it was going to be exactly like the day before.
“So, that’s the beauty of weather forecasting, and around here it’s very difficult.”
As a fellow Italian, I can interpret what Maddon meant: “Ey, yo, wuddya talkin’ about? Da rain musta got lost in transit on da Lufthansa. Yo fuggettaboutit (grabs crotch).”
It adds a lot more meaning to Maddon’s comment after Friday’s sloppy, delayed mess: “That was a very awkward day to play baseball.”
Be a shame if it were to happen again.
“I’m not privy to their forecasting methods or what service they use,” Stearns said. “All I know is what they told us at the time they canceled the game. They certainly knew we preferred to play. We’re of the opinion if there are playable conditions, we’d like to play. It was out of our hands yesterday.”
What’s in commissioner Rob Manfred’s hands is declaring all of the heart-warming Cubbiness over the past year to be tainted. What they pulled is an affront to the game, filling a needle with lies and injecting it right into America’s pastime.
“Their explanation was the weather here is tough to predict,” Stearns said. “If that’s true, I’m even more confused as to why it was called so early, if the weather here is truly that tough to predict.
“It seems like it would have made a lot more sense to wait and see what actually happened with the weather. If there were other reasons the game was called, that’s something that MLB should look into.”
Darn right. There were Wrigley “rainouts” last year, too. One was in chilly late April when bats tend to be at their coldest and rescheduled for a split doubleheader in August. How convenient. Who knows what’s on the up-and-up at the Friendly Confines anymore? “Friendly” like a silent business partner, if you know what I mean.
Fitting that the bobblehead giveaway — “The Final Out” of the 2016 World Series — was reneged. Everything that statuette represents is a sham. The joy of last season has been “rescheduled” in my heart. The championship flags that fly at Wrigley are banners of shame. The new bullpens are built on a foundation of lies.
“I feel bad for their fans,” Counsell said. “A lot of people came to a game and expected good weather. We saw them walking all around Michigan Avenue yesterday afternoon.”
No doubt a few of them were confused children. I mean, what am I supposed to tell my kids, if I had any, about dishonesty like this? My childhood itself has been shook irreparably by the Cubs’ dishonesty.
When I was a boy, I would wake up before the crack of dawn to beat my dad to the newspaper on our porch. I’d slide it from the protective plastic sheath (great journalism has always been mindful of wetness) and go immediately to the weather forecast, poring over it for hours because I’ve never been a strong reader. I knew at a young age that there’s a sacred symbiosis between the sports and the weather, and man has no right to play God between the two.
Because weather isn’t a game.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.