Rhythm of the rain

The criteria for what constitutes inclement weather in baseball obviously has changed.

There was a time not long ago when the rainstorm that turned Citi Field in New York into a quagmire Wednesday night would have resulted in a postponement, no questions asked. For a situation that involved two teams in the same division, the decision by umpires crew chief Bill Miller to keep playing seems somewhat curious. You would think that the glare from the reflection of the lights onto the massive puddles on the skin portion of the infield would have been a dead giveaway that continuing to play was a bad idea.

True, the conditions impacted both teams, and the Mets came out on top 3-0. But ask yourself this: Had it been the postseason, would this game have even started? I don’t think so.

The 162 games played from opening day forward constitute what’s called a championship season, in that they’re played with the goal of winning a championship. It’s simply not possible to adequately perform the required diamond skills in a driving rain.

What about the fans? The announced crowd of 24,527 indicated tickets sold, but there was no more than a third of that number in the seats. The no-shows assumed, quite logically, that given the circumstances, there would be no game.

When the situation on the field requires members of the grounds crew to treat the field with a drying compound virtually every inning, it’s time to wait for another day.

Conversely, there are local fans who wonder why Tuesday afternoon game with Pittsburgh was called so early, inasmuch as almost nothing fell from the sky in Southeast D.C. between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. I was at Nationals Park when the decision to postpone the game was made just before 10 a.m. At that point, the radar indicated that there would be periods of heavy rain during the game, and rather than have fans - many of whom were likely taking the afternoon off from work downtown - sit through hours of looking at the tarpaulin, the Nationals opted to wait until the Pirates come back to town in July. Had this been the Pirates’ only trip to Washington, the decision might have been different.

Maybe the umpires have been told to keep playing barring an actual weather disaster, like a hurricane or tornado. I would doubt that’s the case. But an outcome that turns on weather conditions may negatively impact a potential playoff spot, and that’s really unacceptable.

This isn’t football.