The time of play was “only” five hours. Tack on a two and a half hour rain delay, however, and it pushed the end of this game to 2:45 AM. By the end of it all there was hardly anyone in the stands,* the Angels announcers were wearing wrestling masks and Daisuke Matsuzaka was taking the loss in his first ever relief appearance, losing it in the 13th inning on a two-run, bases loaded single by Bobby Abreu.
And the best part? These two teams get to turn around and play a day game today. First pitch is 1:35. There is no word if Bud Selig is going to impose a one-game moratorium on the greenies ban. Because really, stuff like this is why they were so popular in the first place.
Know what else used to be popular? A balanced schedule that meant that a west coast team like Anaheim visited Fenway more than once, thereby allowing more opportunities for makeup games. If that were still the case today, they probably would have called last night’s game for rain and made it up later. As it is, they can’t, because the Sox and Angels have no more common off days and the Angels won’t make it back to Fenway. Progress isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
But hey: at least Anaheim fans can get their own wrestling masks soon.
*Some people thought that, during the game, NESN was intentionally avoiding crowd shots which would reveal how empty Fenway Park was. If that is the case — and if anyone was watching, chime in — it’s kind of sad. I know Fenway is a hot ticket and all, but only those who have zero obligations on a Thursday morning or the truly deranged could be expected to stay through all of that nonsense. If NESN was trying to hide that simple fact they probably need a perspective infusion.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.