As the rain beat down on Sunday afternoon and turned the Shaw Park outfield into a bog, the Winnipeg Goldeyes pulled the plug.
It wasn't an easy call to postpone the scheduled matinee against the visiting Lincoln Saltdogs, not with 100 staff and all the game-day machinery already in place, but it was one that had to be made -- and one that Goldeyes brass are already a little weary of having to make. Sunday's postponement marked the third time in 16 home games this season that the Fish have been grounded by the weather.
'It's like we're getting punished for no rain-outs last year'
Indeed, only a few days earlier, soggy weather pushed the scheduled series opener against the Saltdogs into a Friday doubleheader. Last season, that didn't happen at all. "It's like we're getting punished for no rain-outs last year," Goldeyes general manager Andrew Collier chuckled, kicking back in his office as the clouds unleashed their liquid all over Shaw Park.
Being in the baseball business, Collier has become an amateur meteorologist of sorts, watching weather radar and guessing how it might unfurl. On Sunday, he watched with a sinking stomach as the rain building up in the south shifted directions to head straight over downtown Winnipeg. "As soon as it started coming at us, I had a feeling that unless it dissipated, we'd be in trouble," Collier said.
The Goldeyes will make up Sunday's game with a doubleheader when the Saltdogs come back on July 30, and fans can exchange tickets for Sunday's game to one for any other regular-season tilt. But every rain-out deals the club a budget hit, as the park still needs to be prepped and staff must be paid.
Then there's the effects on the game, as manager Rick Forney will now have to carefully juggle his pitching corps around a squeezed-in double-header. "It's not a good situation for anybody," Collier said. "It's going to wreak havoc on (pitching coach Jamie) Vermilyea and Rick. We try everything we can to play the games, as long as it's safe for the players."
Meanwhile, as players changed back into street clothes and headed out into the storm, the newest Goldeye wasn't letting the rain dampen his enthusiasm.
Over the weekend, the Goldeyes claimed pitcher Ryan Sasaki from the Laredo Lemurs to shore up a staff left short after Alex Capaul was released earlier this month. He arrived in Winnipeg late Saturday evening, and Forney planned to start the 22-year-old southpaw on Sunday.
Those plans, of course, were thwarted by the downpour, but Sasaki -- a former Philadelphia Phillies draft pick who was 2-2 with a 4.81 ERA in six starts with Laredo this season -- still came away from Shaw Park with a good impression.
"I've seen the fans here earlier in the season, and I was pretty amazed by the environment," Sasaki said. "I was looking forward to it today... Seeing the fans here waiting for the rain to stop and not knowing what's going to happen, that's pretty dedicated fans to me."
It'll be a week before Sasaki and his teammates get a chance to see those fans again -- the Fish are hitting the road on Tuesday for a six-game swing through Sioux City, IA, and Gary, Ind. They return to Shaw Park on July 2 to open an eight-game homestand.
On Sunday, the Fish also placed outfielder Ryan Scoma on the disabled list. After driving in 17 runs in the Goldeyes' first 21 games, he has been out with an injury since June 12.