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Blame it on the rain: ’Topes have struggled with weather

With the skies looking pretty ominous from storms earlier Wednesday afternoon, the grounds crew at Isotopes Park kept the tarp ready to cover the field on a moment's notice while the game was in rain-delay mode. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

With the skies looking pretty ominous from storms earlier Wednesday afternoon, the grounds crew at Isotopes Park kept the tarp ready to cover the field on a moment’s notice while the game was in rain-delay mode.
(Jim Thompson/Journal)

Sunday night, John Traub looked like a genius, delaying then postponing a baseball game before a deluge hit Albuquerque.

Wednesday night, a one hour, 42 minute delay for rain that didn’t actually come until they actually started the game at 8:47 p.m. (the first rainfall came in the top of the first inning), left the longtime general manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes taking to Twitter with this message: “Trying to predict weather as it affects @AbqTopes games could cause a guy to lose his hair.”

Each day had essentially the same forecast and pregame group consultation with managers, grounds crew, umpires and the National Weather Service. And each day, Traub had to make the call on whether to play ball or not at Isotopes Park.

“It’s one of the things I hate most about my job,” Traub admitted Thursday night about trying to juggle the dozens of factors that go into whether or not to delay a game.

More often than not this season for the Isotopes, who lost to the visiting Salt Lake Bees 9-6 on Thursday night, the weather has wreaked havoc.

Sometimes, the game goes on after a delay. Sometimes, they’re postponed and made up in the form of a doubleheader.

Through Thursday’s loss, the ‘Topes have had 7 hours, 58 minutes of delays in games actually played (they had 3:55 all of last season).

“When players come to the ballpark each day, they are prepared to play,” said ‘Topes manager Glenallen Hill, adding he prefers a delay over a doubleheader. “Most players, it’s hard for them to turn it off if they’re not going to play. … From my perspective, and for this team, (delayed games) haven’t affected us.”

Postponed games leading to doubleheaders, however, are a different story.

The ‘Topes have had eight games postponed this season leading to 16 doubleheaders (they had seven/14 all last season). In those doubleheader games, the ‘Topes have a 3-13 record and have been outscored 85-38, including 20-1 in the two losses Monday.

And it isn’t really an Albuquerque problem. The ‘Topes have had seven road games postponed in six Pacific Coast League cities, including two at Las Vegas and one in El Paso, places that almost never get rainouts.

“I’m sure it could be worse,” said Isotopes play-by-play announcer Josh Suchon. “Somebody always has it worse, but I can say I’m not a fan of the doubleheader.”

Though he’s not looking for sympathy – “Look what I get to do every day” – Suchon has had to ice the pipes after some marathon broadcasts this season due to the delays. On June 8 in Salt Lake City, a rain-caused doubleheader led to his being on the air, alone, for 6 hours, 15 minutes (pregame show started at 4:45 p.m. and he went off the air at 11 p.m.).

But it’s not all bad. Starting with a delayed July 21 game in Reno, Nev., that ended at 12:51 a.m. local (1:51 a.m. MT), ‘Topes shortstop Trevor Story has hit three home runs in the past two delayed games, not to mention four total in the past two weeks after 10 p.m. MT, leading Suchon to tag him with the nickname “Coyote.”

Two of starting pitcher Jon Gray’s last three starts have had lengthy delays (1:28 before his July 19 start and 1:42 Wednesday). In those starts, he’s pitched 10 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and striking out 15 hitters.

“You learn to cope with (delays) when you go through it a lot,” Gray said. “You kind of have a better idea learning from how you went about it the first time. I think our team has handled pretty well. I know personally, it’s been easier.”

TIME-LAPSE VIDEO: Isotopes staff takes down tarp before game earlier this season…

Members of the Isotopes Park grounds crew use rollers and squeegees to spread out water left on the ground after an earlier downpour Wednesday afternoon. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Members of the Isotopes Park grounds crew use rollers and squeegees to spread out water left on the ground after an earlier downpour Wednesday afternoon.
(Jim Thompson/Journal)

 

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