So, how 'bout that weather?
Yesterday, the second game of a doubleheader with the Los Angeles Dodgers was rained out. The day before yesterday, the game was postponed by rain. And the day before that? Still more rain that first threatened to put off Stephen Strasburg's return to the mound and later created a mid-game delay.
This week brought a crazy amount of rain to the Washington area, with important consequences that include three deaths in Maryland and Virginia, property damage from flooding and a lot of closed roads.
For the Nationals, the soggy weather also created difficult decisions regarding what to do about scheduled games, when to decide and when and how to announce decisions. Will Strasburg pitch or not? Will the game be delayed or played at all?
On the one hand, it makes sense to wait as long as possible before acting because weather can change. On the other hand, fans, players and even the visiting team need information to help them decide whether and when to go to the ballpark. As we saw Wednesday - when tweets by the Dodgers, players, beat writers and the Nationals variously said the game was off, back on and then off again - both communication and non-communication can lead to confusion.
In addition to deciding whether to go to the ballpark, fans must consider how to stay dry and how long to stick it out when rain delays or stops play. My baseball bag includes a hat, umbrella, rain poncho and usually a small towel when the forecast is bad. As a season ticket holder, I also have a few passes to enter the Stars and Stripes Club, which I have saved for rainy days. Add my camera, wallet, sunglasses, phone and other non-rain essentials, and it's sort of a lot of stuff to carry around, but I'm ready for whatever weather.
The next and perhaps most important decision regards whether to sit out a delay when the rain stops play. On weeknights in particular, staying at the ballpark usually means less sleep, as it did on Tuesday night when a 31-minute delay and painfully slow pitching by Dodgers starter Ted Lilly added up to a game that didn't end until after 11 p.m. Fans who stuck around saw the Nationals lose 7-3, but were rewarded for their dedication with the opportunity to see four major-league debuts, including pitcher Brad Peacock before the delay, and 3 more firsts afterward: pitcher Atahualpa Severino, infielder Steve Lombardozzi and outfielder Corey Brown.
I stuck around and cheered as loud as I could for the new kids, and in general believe in enduring rain delays because you never know what might happen. This season, the best example might be Nationals' 8-4 win over the Phillies on July 19. That game featured a 2 hour, 22 minute delay, a notable contribution by Livan Hernandez, who pitched both before and after the rain, and a come-from-behind rally by the good guys in the bottom of the ninth. When the game finally ended, it was well after midnight, but I was pretty happy to be at the ballpark to see Ryan Zimmermann win it with a walk-off grand slam home run. Good times!
And although I might argue that good times can feel even better when you stick it out for your team, I'd be perfectly happy if we skipped the rain tonight.
Jenn Jenson blogs about the Nationals at Nationals Fangirl and has joined MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.