For the 2nd time in 4 days, a regular season home game at the Coliseum has been postponed. Unlike Tuesday’s deluge-caused delay, tonight’s game was somehow halted thanks to only 1/3-inch of rain. Why? Because the groundskeeping crew chose to leave the infield tarp off in hopes of drying out the field from the previous week’s rain.
Here’s my understanding of what led up to the postponement:
- After last night’s extra innings affair, the grounds crew spoke with a weather consultant. They wanted to know if it was safe to leave the infield tarp off, so that the field could dry out a little going into the weekend. The consultant said there was little chance of rain, so they went ahead with this.
- Late Thursday night (midnight), it started to rain. Again, 1/3-inch fell overnight.
- When A’s staff arrived this morning, they found the infield waterlogged despite that minimal amount of rain.
- The grounds crew worked feverishly throughout the day to prep the infield dirt, which was practically mud. Turface (clay) and Diamond Dry (ground corn cobs) absorbent substances were employed to little improvement.
- Batting practice was cancelled at 4 PM.
- In anticipation of another brief rainstorm, the tarp was placed on the field. As a result, the field can’t be worked on.
- When the tarp was removed prior to the game, the field was still in such bad shape that the managers and umpires were concerned about the potential for injury.
- At 6:30, a 30-minute rain delayed was announced. The original scheduled start time was to be 7:05.
- The game was called off at 7:20.
Throughout the night, the grounds crew continues to work on the infield to absorb pooled rainwater. There remains a question of whether Saturday’s game can be played on account of the field.
Simply put, the decision to leave the tarp off was utterly boneheaded, especially considering the risk/reward. There was a slight chance of rain, and given the fragile condition of the he field, Clay Wood and his staff shouldn’t have taken such a risk.
Then again, 1/3-inch of rain shouldn’t render an infield unplayable. It’s not much at all. Newer fields with more extensive drainage systems can drain several inches of rain per hour.
However, this is the Coliseum we’re talking about, where the field is 22 feet below sea level and 6 feet below the water table. Gravity doesn’t help. Neither do the tides, which were in between at the time of the postponement. To get rid of the water you have to sop it up or pump it out. An old Chronicle article written during the. Mt. Davis construction explained the difficulty.
It takes at least a day to pump out all the water after a heavy rain.
Another factor may be the freshly laid down sod, only a few weeks old. This year the old standy Bermuda grass has been replaced by Kentucky bluegrass, which may have been chosen for its drought-resistance. If the sod hasn’t fully taken hold, that too would affect field drainage, though obviously not on the dirt portions of the infield.
The game doesn’t yet have a rescheduled date. Players chose not to do another split doubleheader as they did Wednesday, which is their right per the CBA. The game could be made up in May or in the second half of the he season.
This largely preventable incident by an otherwise excellent grounds crew only highlights the deficiencies of the Coliseum, even though this was not a matter of regular stadium maintenance. Regardless, it continues to show the Coliseum in the worst light: unloved, broken, and only used because all the alternatives are too expensive at the moment. I’d like to think that the Coli will catch a break sometime, but that might mean it will actually break.