Indians offer apology to fans after Friday delays
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians apologized to fans who attended Friday night’s game with Tampa Bay that had nearly five hours of rain delays and ended shortly before 3 a.m.
Indians president Mark Shapiro met with reporters before Saturday’s game and said the team feels “terrible” about what took place Friday and will reach out to fans to show that.
Friday’s game, scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m., was delayed three times before finally resuming at 12:13 a.m. — 2 hours, 39 minutes after the third and longest delay. The teams were delayed a total of 4:49 before the Rays emerged with a 9-2 win at 2:53 a.m.
The weekend forecast, which called for heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday, didn’t help the situation. The fact the teams aren’t scheduled to meet again this season was another factor in the decision to wait out the rain.
The game drew 29,603 fans — the Indians’ third largest home crowd of the season. The Indians offered a $1 hot dog promotion and a postgame fireworks show, which was canceled.
“We feel terrible about that type of circumstance for our fans,” Shapiro said. “That’s not what we’re looking to do here. We’re looking to provide the best experience possible for our fans. To have them wait around that long with that much uncertainty is something we want to work to make right.”
Shapiro said no decision has been reached about what steps the Indians will take. He said fans should keep their ticket stubs from the game.
“We’re trying to come up with some alternatives to demonstrate that materially to our fans,” Shapiro said.
The game was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes at the start, 13 minutes in the second inning and then for another 2:39 before it started again at 12:13 a.m. The crowd had dwindled to a few thousand by that point.
Shapiro said the two teams, the umpiring crew and Major League Baseball worked together in reaching the decision to play the game.
“If any of us knew that we would resume play after midnight, we certainly would have done everything possible to cancel the game earlier,” he said.
At about 11 p.m., Indians manager Terry Francona, Rays manager Joe Maddon, Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti and two umpires did a walking tour of the saturated outfield grass to inspect the conditions. Antonetti also spoke on the phone with Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman.
The statement released by the team read, in part, “We value each and every one of our fans. We want to thank the fans that did stay for some or all of the game for their loyalty, patience and perseverance.”