Cubs manager Joe Maddon

Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Bernstein: Joe Maddon's Words May Have Mattered In Postponing Cubs-Cardinals

Maddon heavily criticized the decision to play in poor weather conditions Saturday.

Dan Bernstein
April 16, 2018 - 2:00 pm
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By Dan Bernstein--
670TheScore.com senior columnist

(670 The Score) It's a good bet that MLB really wanted the Cubs and Cardinals to do everything possible to play at Wrigley Field on Monday night, and the fact that they aren't likely has to do with just how hard manager Joe Maddon went in after their frigid adventure Saturday.

Maddon was as strident as he could be about the poor weather conditions that plagued both teams during what was ultimately an unlikely 14-10 win for the Cubs over the Braves that featured a rally fueled at least in part by pitchers and fielders struggling to throw with frozen fingers. The wind chills had fallen into the 20s, and a constant mist soaked the field and the players, with wind later driving rain at 24 mph.

"Remarkably bad" was how Maddon described the conditions, adding that those were "the worst elements I've ever participated in a baseball game in" and that "the game should really not have been played."

And it wasn't Sunday, with similar weather still in place, despite the schedule pressure of Atlanta not being a more present divisional rival that would allow for an easier makeup date. Cooler (wamer?) heads prevailed to spare both teams a similar ordeal after Maddon issued such a strong condemnation, and his words had to still be resonating regarding the latest decision.

It's all more complicated this year after MLB adopted new guidelines for games and travel in response to requests from the players' union. There are more off days that were originally guaranteed and restrictions on flight times and start times while on the road. The home team still has the call on starting a game or not before ceding power to the umpiring crew, but reports indicate that the league office is exerting more pressure than ever in to play in certain situations.

Despite those efforts by players to ease the wear and tear on their bodies over the longer course of a six-month season, a manager always becomes more concerned about acute injury risk at any given time, and it's clear that Maddon feels both teams were lucky to emerge unscathed in that respect Saturday, able to merely thaw out instead of confronting the loss of a critical player for a significant stretch.

Whether Maddon was blaming MLB officials or his own bosses or some combination of both for pushing ahead Saturday is unclear, but the point was made more than clearly for everyone involved. Cubs-Cardinals was a late addition to the ESPN national slate for out-of-market viewers Monday night, with the start time moved up and hour to 6:05 p.m. to accommodate the larger audience.

2018 is tracking for a record number of weather postponements and already has set the season record for most sub-40-degree games played since 2000. There will be all kinds of logistical oddities and difficulties as part of the effort to correct for games already missed, and MLB looks at consequences piling up with each passing day.

This was a game that baseball preferred be played, given every chance to get it in, sources told 670 the Score. The fact that Monday night was banged early for mere cold despite a forecast for clearing skies has plenty to do with one of baseball's most visible managers and outspoken personalities offering as powerful an opinion as he did.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and McKnight Show” in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​

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