On a gray Thursday the Angels should have had off, disgruntled players arrived early at Angel Stadium to play a series finale against the Minnesota Twins. More than 18 hours earlier, rain so drenched the field that it was unplayable. The team postponed the game for safety reasons, to the chagrin of players in the Angels and Twins clubhouses.
Andrew Heaney, the Angels’ representative to the Major League Baseball Players Assn., said his team wanted to play Wednesday so players’ schedules wouldn’t be compromised. The Angels have worked out at the stadium every day since May 17. They were scheduled to have Thursday off leading into a stretch of 19 games in 19 days.
But, because of the postponement, the Angels will play 20 games in 20 days, and will have spent 26 straight days at the ballpark with no rest.
It seemed unreasonable to Angels players that they’d be asked to subject themselves to those conditions, but MLB’s collective bargaining agreement does not account for preparing to play a game that is postponed after a delay. Rule 12 under Article V, Section C of the agreements states that clubs can reschedule rained-out games “to an open date in the same series, or to an open date at the end of the same series, if: (a) the open date is a road off day for the visiting Club, and (b) the rescheduling does not result in the home team playing more than twenty-four consecutive dates without an open day.”
Both stipulations applied.
“It’s considered an off day if you don’t play a game,” Heaney said. “There’s nothing you can do whether we are at the field all night and don’t play a game, it doesn’t matter. … That’s definitely something we’ll look into.”
The Angels, Heaney said, lobbied for the game to be pushed to Aug. 26, another mutual day off. The Twins would have had to travel to Anaheim from Minnesota for one game, then return to the Midwest for a series in Chicago against the White Sox.
“We have a situation where we play in Seattle, go to play a makeup game in Chicago [June 3] on our off day and then come back here to play Oakland at home,” Heaney said of the Angels’ upcoming trip. “Not the greatest travel. So I think a lot of guys on our side didn’t feel a ton of sympathy. … It’s not a big deal, but it’s something we tried working out.”
The issue could have been avoided if field conditions had improved in a timely fashion Wednesday night.
Drainage at Angel Stadium has been a problem in the past. The Angels had to postpone a Sunday night game in July 2015 because of a situation similar to Wednesday’s. But the team never fixed the drainage problem.
The Angels’ current lease on their stadium will expire after the 2020 season. They are in the midst of exploring other options for a ballpark, including Long Beach’s proposal for a new stadium on a waterfront site that could cost upward of $1 billion.
Even if the Angels chose to relocate, it would take several years for a new facility to be constructed before they left Angel Stadium.
Still, sinking money into the installation of a drainage system for a ballpark that could become obsolete might not be a prudent business decision. The Angels have had only three games postponed by rain, or its aftermath, in the last 25 years.
“Everybody is going to have their jokes and laugh about it, but we know how our field drains,” Heaney said. “We know what it does and how well it drains and how well it doesn’t drain, whether it’s sunny, not sunny, night game, [head groundskeeper Barney Lopas] is really good about that. Like I said, that grounds crew worked really hard to get that field playable and it just wasn’t viable.”