December 21, 2014

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Indians: President Mark Shapiro explains decision not to postpone Friday’s game

CLEVELAND — The question on nearly everyone’s mind who was either in attendance at Progressive Field, watching on television or listening to the radio Friday night was, “Why haven’t they postponed this game?”
Team president Mark Shapiro offered an explanation prior to the Indians’ 5-0 win over the Rays on Saturday.
“Obviously, if any of us knew that we would resume play after midnight, we certainly would’ve done everything possible to cancel the game earlier,” said Shapiro, whose team was running a “Dollar Dog” promotion with a postgame fireworks display scheduled for the series opener. “We dealt with a changing weather forecast. We dealt with the reality that there was no common off day that was acceptable under the basic agreement. All those things factored in, and we felt like we had to try to play the game.”
The Indians were able to play — losing 9-2 — but not without a combined rain delay total of four hours and 49 minutes for a game that was scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. but didn’t start until 9:02 and ended at 2:53 a.m.
Once the game officially started, the umpires and Major League Baseball had the final say, but Shapiro said the Indians and Rays provided input. Shapiro said neither club asked umpires to consider postponement, with a number of factors preventing that.
While there were common off days, none was acceptable without a waiver from the union.
Playing a doubleheader today was discussed, but Shapiro said inclement weather forecasts for Saturday took that out of the equation.
“Once you start pushing back your problems, all you do is compound your problems,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro is a member of MLB’s Special Committee for On-Field Matters. He was asked if steps could be taken to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“I think the convergence of circumstances, when you look at everything combined (Friday) night, they’re pretty unique,” Shapiro said. “One of the great parts of baseball that can also be one of the tough parts is that you continually go through new things no matter how many years you’ve been in it. Sometimes those are great things and sometimes they are absolutely exasperating.”
Players were appreciative of the fans that remained for the duration, with Cleveland’s Mike Aviles tweeting: “Wasn’t the outcome we wanted but just wanted to say thanks to all the fans who stayed til the end last night!! #tipmycap2ya.”
Even Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria acknowledged Cleveland fans.
“A sincere thanks to each and every fan that stuck around to watch that game! You all made it fun. #ClevelandRocks,” he tweeted.
The Indians released a statement on the team website thanking fans for their patience. Shapiro said the club is in the process of discussing a material way in which they can reward them, and that those in attendance should hold on to their tickets.
“We feel terrible about that type of circumstance for our fans,” Shapiro said. “To have them wait around that long with that much uncertainty, we want to work to make that right.
“We played the game, so there’s no legal obligation, but we are going to work to make some effort to address the fact that we feel terrible and we want to make it right for them.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.
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