No one wanted to be playing this game today, on what was supposed to be an off day for both the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, but after last Sunday’s postponement, the two teams, who endured a rain-soaked couple days in D.C. last weekend, returned to Nationals Park for a 4:05 PM EDT matchup in front of a small crowd in the nation’s capital.
Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo, expressed his displeasure with the situation by putting his uniform on in Chicago for the overnight flight, cleats and all, so he could get off of the plane, play the game, and go right back home where the Cubs will continue an interrupted homestand tomorrow night.
“I was just kind of having fun throughout a tough stretch in the season,” Rizzo explained, as quoted by ESPN’s Eddie Matz.
“I mean, we’re flying into a state of emergency with rain in the forecast. It’s kind of a joke, so why not keep joking around about it and just have fun?”
For the record, Rizzo said he didn’t bring a change of clothes, so he’ll be flying back in that uniform, though he said he was just trying to make the best of a bad situation for everyone involved.
“At the end of the day, our front office, our owner, they have our back. We’re in a long stretch of games. There’s people in MLB that have been on the players’ side. They understand the human element of it, and they seem not to care at all. So it is what it is. We can sit here and complain about [it], or we can joke about it. I’ll take the joking around part -- a lot more fun.”
“I wish he had said something sooner,” Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon joked.
“Because we could have all done it. I would have done it in a heartbeat. Ready to leave, showered, ready to roll, bus is ready to leave, and then all of a sudden he’s sitting there.
“‘Why didn’t you say something sooner?’”
Maddon was asked where he was in terms of irritation at this point after all the delays over the weekend in D.C. and the return trip to Washington.
“Again, the only irritation for me, if there is an irritation is the consecutive game streak that we’ve got going on right now,” Maddon added.
“It’s not about the weather,” he said, “...that’s not my concern, it’s about not being able to appropriately give guys days off where there’s no game schedule and it’s been difficult to do that obviously, and it’s not about the rain.”
“We’ll play this game and of course try to win it and then take it on back home. We’re here, you’ve got to play, and that’s what you’ve got to do.”
“Clearly no one wants to be here,” Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer said, as quoted by Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan. “I think there is a mental fatigue of 30 days in a row that’s real. We’ve twice had to go to the East Coast to play makeup games, and arrived late and get home late. There are a lot of negatives.
”But when I was with the Red Sox, [manager] Terry Francona had a Bill Russell quote on his desk, and to paraphrase it, it just said ‘The game is scheduled. We’re all here. Might as well win.’ Everyone is well aware we’re opposing this, but as long as we’re here, might as well play hard and win.”
“The hardest [thing] is just staying engaged,” former Cubs’ bench coach and current Nats’ manager Davey Martinez said before the game.
“We got in late, they got in late, we got a late start today. I told the boys, ‘Hey, sleep in as much as you can and let’s get ready to play.’
“They’ve got to endure the same thing, so just be out there and get ready to play.”
“It’s been a grinding week not just for us but for the Cubs as well,” Martinez added, “... so I’m just grateful we’re here and we’re going to get the game in. If we got here and it was raining that wouldn’t be any fun to sit around, so let’s just play the game and move on.”
There was no rain in Nationals Park on Thursday. The two teams went to extra innings tied at 3-3 before the Cubs took the lead and earned a split of the four-game set, but they didn’t feel much like celebrating after the game because reliever Pedro Strop, who finished off the eighth, tossed a scoreless ninth, and hit for himself since Maddon planned to use him in the bottom of the tenth, injured his left hamstring trying to avoid a double play that ended the top of the tenth.
“These games shouldn’t happen,” Cubbies’ starter Mike Montgomery told the Tribune.
“A closer left with an injury, and he should have been sitting on a boat somewhere for an off day. It sucks.”