Nationals' Rizzo Works Closely With Feds, DC Law Enforcement In Postponing Game
Nationals President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo following yesterday's shootings at the Washington Navy Yard "worked with federal and local law enforcement," along with MLB, prior to postponing last night's home game against the Braves and scheduling today's "split doubleheader with separate admission," according to Amanda Comak of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Players from both teams "spent much of the day communicating about whether or not a game would be played," and they "hoped it would not." Nationals P Dan Haren said, "Kind of the general consensus was that we really didn't want to play, just out of respect for the families and everyone involved." Many Braves players "loaded onto the team buses from their hotel in Pentagon City" around 1:30pm ET for the 7:05pm start, "even though they did not know at that time whether or not they’d be playing a game." Braves P Scott Downs: "We were all still wondering ‘Why are we getting on the bus?’ Baseball, I think, was the last thing on everybody’s mind. ... The last thing anybody wanted to do was come to the ballfield." Comak notes the Nationals "did not postpone the game until just after" 3:00pm, after most players and personnel from both teams "had already arrived at the stadium." Rizzo said the "immense coordination that it takes to make these decisions with federal and local authorities" delayed the decision process. But Comak notes the feeling of Nationals ownership "was always that playing any game would be inappropriate" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/17). In DC, James Wagner cited a source as saying that MLB security officials "had been in contact with the Nationals’ security office all day." MLB "encouraged the Nationals to lean on the guidance of local authorities before making a decision about the game." The decision "was ultimately made by the Nationals and the league office, and supported by Commissioner Bud Selig" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/16).
RIVALS WORK TOGETHER: Braves 3B Chris Johnson said that Nationals P Drew Storen and Braves P Brandon Beachy, the teams' player reps, agreed to call the MLBPA to "express the players’ desire to postpone the game." Johnson: “There was a lot of guys that didn’t want to play, thought it was kind of disrespectful to play. It’s right across the street. To be able to hear cheering, and supposedly they’re using a parking lot for families -- I don’t know. It should just be quiet for today." DC Mayor Vincent Gray said that he "wasn’t involved with every detail of the postponement, but that he wished the decision had been made earlier" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/16). MLB Network's Richard Justice noted players told him that "this was a day to grieve out of respect to the dead, respect to the people who worked at the Navy Yard, people who were neighbors to this ballclub." Justice: "Part of the mission of this ballclub is to be a good citizens of this community, and they felt it just wouldn't have been right to play" ("MLB Tonight," MLBN, 9/16). MLB Net's Charlie Slowes said players on the two teams "started talking to each other via Twitter, via text, earlier in the day that it would be inappropriate to play this game." The Nationals "honor the military here every night in the fourth inning of each game, and you're right next to the Navy Yard where this tragedy took place" ("The Rundown," MLBN, 9/16). In DC, Kilgore & Wagner note the ballpark "sits roughly five blocks" from the Navy Yard. The American flag "will still be at half-mast, and uncertainty will still dominate the area beyond the outfield walls" during today's games (WASHINGTON POST, 9/17).
SAFETY FIRST: CSNWASHINGTON.com's Mark Zuckerman wrote the decision to postpone yesterday's game ultimately "came down to fan safety." With an ongoing investigation and search for additional gunmen, and "with a large swath directly to the east of Nationals Park still in lockdown, the notion of inviting 20,000-30,000 baseball fans to the area was untenable." There were other "logistical issues as well, most notably the use of one of the ballpark’s garages as a staging area for family members trying to reconnect [with] loved ones who work at the Navy Yard" (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 9/16). Justice wrote to play the game when DC had "just been battered by an act of incomprehensible evil would have made no sense" (MLB.com, 9/16). Police activity was visible around Nationals Park, and sirens "could be heard throughout the afternoon" (ESPN.com, 9/16).