I had a great time at Citi Field yesterday watching the Mets scrape out the tying run off Mariano in the 9th and seeing Jason Bay finally have his moment in the 10th. I went home a happy man. But due to an hour-and-a-half “rain delay” — during which there was nothing more than a drizzle — I also went home much later than I should have. And I’m skeptical as to why.
The official announcement was that a “batch of showers” was expected, and that therefore the start of the game would be delayed. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to determine for sure whether it was justified (you can’t see past weather on weather.com). However, not once did a steady rain fall, nor did the skies even become threatening. Given the Mets’ current financial state, I can’t help but speculate that this was not a rain delay, but rather a money delay.
Attendance at Citi Field has dipped this year; entering the Subway Series, the Mets were on pace for a more than 250,000-fan plunge from 2010, and are still headed toward a significant decline. Meanwhile, the Wilpons are trying desperately to hold onto control of the team after being sued for $1 billion. This weekend, though, the crowds were huge — record-setting in the stadium’s young history with the Yanks in town and both teams playing well. Fred and Jeff wanted to seize the opportunity.
An hour-and-a-half delay means that much more time for fans to buy concessions — more time to roam around and wait in line at Shake Shack, buy jerseys, and stop in at the Verizon store (yes, this exists at Citi Field). (I stayed in my seat, on principle.) If the Mets aren’t playing meaningful games in September and October, this series will be far and away their best money-making chance of the year.
Unless the Mets were certain that heavy rain was coming, they should have at least started the game and adjusted to the circumstances. As it turned out, a delay would not have been necessary. Nonetheless, the tarp stayed on the field, forcing 41,513 fans to wait under a cloudy-but-rainless sky for the game to begin. If the Pirates were in town, I think that game would have started at 1:10.
Maybe, just maybe, the forecast lied. Still, I can’t help but think the decision to delay the game was based on green — and not the green on the weather map.