When the 2023 schedule came out, very few pundits would have predicted a late September series between the Mets and Marlins at Citi Field would have had had no meaning for the home team and a world of meeting for the visitors.
But that was the situation on Tuesday night as the Mets and Marlins attempted to open a three-game series. The Mets had been eliminated from playoff contention, but Miami went into the night one game behind the Cubs for the final NL wild card spot with six games to play.
So the Marlins really wanted to play. But there was a complication: The field at Citi Field was waterlogged after days and days of rain.
Even though it hadn’t rained for hours before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. start time, the game was postponed at 8:19 because “unplayable field conditions,” the Mets announced.
It will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader starting at 4:10 p.m. on Wednesday.
Mets manager Buck Showalter did not address the media after the postponement.
On Wednesday, Mets owner Steve Cohen apologized to the Marlins on social media.
"Our sincere apologies to the Marlins and their fans for having to postpone last night’s game," Cohen posted. "We know how important this series is to the Marlins and every effort was made to get the field playable."
Earlier Tuesday, batting practice was canceled, of course. About an hour before game time, instead of infielders taking grounders at shortstop, that position was filled by Showalter and other officials from both teams who were discussing the situation.
A second meeting in the same spot at about 8 p.m. led to the decision to postpone the game.
“When I first walked out there, it wasn’t great,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “I would say it was definitely unplayable a couple hours ago. You can see they’re working really hard for us to get out there and to play the game, and I don’t think Buck or I would ever put a player at risk if we think it’s unplayable. Just rather play a doubleheader the next day. But I feel like they’re doing the best they can to make it playable.”
The grounds crew worked feverishly on the infield, which was darkened with moisture. A huge fan/blowing contraption was stationed between first and second bases, just on the outfield grass, and was pointed at rightfield.
At 7:07, the giant centerfield scoreboard at Citi Field told the few thousand fans in attendance: “Tropical Storm Ophelia brought heavy precipitation to the area. We are trying to make the field conditions playable.”
A few minutes later, the Double-A Eastern League championship game between the Mets’ Binghamton affiliate and Erie was being shown on the giant scoreboard.
Earlier, Schumaker had talked about the possibility of the teams having to play a doubleheader on Wednesday if the field could not be made playable on Tuesday. It’s hard to sweep a doubleheader, and it can mess up your pitching for the next few days, so the Marlins clearly had a preference.
“We want to play today,” Schumaker said. “That’s definitely the case. But if it’s a doubleheader, it’s a doubleheader. It’s part of it. It’s [a] part of the season that we have to play. We have six games left. No more off days in-between.
“No matter what we put in front of [the players], they’ve always been good with it. It can [tick] you off for a minute or so, but I think they get over it and they play baseball at the end of the day. So if it’s today or two tomorrow, we’ll figure that out.”
Notes & quotes: Pete Alonso, through his foundation, donated $10,000 to the Port Washington-based North Shore Animal League. Alonso posed with puppies before the game, and was joined by Jets offensive lineman Mekhi Becton, who visited the club and received an autographed Alonso bat . . . Starling Marte’s scheduled simulated game was postponed by rain. Showalter said Marte (groin strain) still hopes to play in a big-league game before season’s end . . . Francisco Alvarez, who left Sunday’s game after getting hit in the finger with three foul tips, was in Tuesday’s lineup. “He’s a tough kid,” Showalter said.