Stearns, Crew surprised by rainout decision

Stearns, Crew surprised by rainout decision

CHICAGO -- A rainless rainout on Saturday brought the latest entry in a rivalry that seems to be simmering again between the Brewers and Cubs.

"It was the first time for us that we've had players treated for sunburn after a rainout," quipped Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

Brewers GM David Stearns made measured comments on the matter Sunday, but he was stewing Saturday after the Cubs decided two full hours before the scheduled first pitch (1:20 p.m. CT) at Wrigley Field to postpone the game until July 6.

Indeed, players enjoyed a dry, unexpected afternoon off. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was able to get on the field for running drills, the final test before he was activated from the 10-day disabled list for Sunday's series finale. Brewers relievers did their daily throwing. Stearns said he wore sunglasses for an afternoon walk along Lake Michigan.

Winners of 10 of their previous 12 games to push into first place in the National League Central, the Brewers would have rather played ball.

"I didn't talk to Theo [Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations], but I talked to some guys over with the Cubs. They knew how we felt," Stearns said. "They told us that their weather forecast indicated that our game was not going to be able to be played. Our weather forecast did not indicate that. I think there were probably some other weather forecasts that also did not indicate that. And ultimately, it was the Cubs' call."

Prior to the All-Star break, the home team has discretion over weather delays and postponements. Once a game begins, those decisions are in the hands of the umpires.

"I'm sure they had their reasons," Stearns said. "It's one of the earliest games I've been involved with that was called. So that surprised me a little bit, that we didn't get closer to game time." 

Stearns and Counsell declined opportunities to speculate about ulterior motives, but other Brewers had their theories. The Cubs would have been without their two left-handed relievers, Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery, because of the duo's recent workload. The rainout also bought an extra day for outfielder Jason Heyward's return from the DL. He was back in the starting lineup Sunday.

Asked whether he believed there was gamesmanship involved, Counsell said, "You'll have to ask them. I feel bad for their fans, you know? A lot of people came to the game expecting good weather. We saw them all walking around Michigan Ave. yesterday afternoon.

"When there's no rain, you expect there to be a game."

A Cubs spokesperson declined an offer for front office officials to go on the record, saying manager Joe Maddon's morning comments would stand. The spokesperson did note that the Cubs experienced a similar rainout in St. Louis last month.

Maddon said he spent the afternoon cleaning his apartment and napping, and he was not even aware the weather had cleared up.

"It's just like the day before," Maddon said, referring to Friday's 6-3 Brewers win, which was played in miserable weather and included a two-hour rain delay in the sixth inning. "Everything indicated it was going to be exactly like the day before. So, that's the beauty of weather forecasting, and around here it's very difficult."

This rivalry took on a little edge earlier this season when the Brewers visited the Cubs in April. At the time, Eric Thames was in the midst of a home run binge, and Cubs pitcher John Lackey, outfielder Kyle Schwarber and pitching coach Chris Bosio mused in the media about PEDs. That did not sit well with the Brewers, though no one other than Thames opted to respond publicly.

"I stayed out of that," Stearns said. "I think speculation like that probably isn't good for the game in general, whether it's on one of our players or someone else."

With the sun shining Sunday, the teams' rivalry returned to the field.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.