Several of the St. Louis Cardinals hitters complained about the late afternoon shadows at Busch Stadium on Monday afternoon in a game visiting Milwaukee took by a 4-1 score. Among the team leaders expressing concern were Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, joined by the Brewers’ MVP candidate, Ryan Braun.
All seem to agree that an earlier (or later) starting time than the 3:15 P.M. CDT first pitch on Monday would provide safer conditions for the players. While some mid-afternoon games are dictated by MLB’s national contract with the FOX Network, the Labor Day game did not fit under that umbrella. In other words, the start time was apparently a local decision.
My concern is not with the issue itself, as the players seem to make a legitimate point, but with the manner in which it was handled. Instead of being quietly addressed in-house, by the players going to the media, the situation went national.
The Cardinals are taking additional heat in some quarters for voicing these concerns. The team is already not on level ground in the court of public perception due to previous complaints about the environment in other parks in matters such as lighting, inequitable strike zones, rubbing up of baseballs and the like.
The Cardinals players could have instead handled this in a discreet manner, bringing the concerns to their management directly, or alternatively, using their agents or even the Players’ Association. Only if they received no satisfaction through regular channels should it have been necessary to speak out in the press.
Rightly or wrongly, by doing what they did in the way they did, especially after another game lost in a season during which they have consistently underachieved, they come across to some as excuse-makers. This only furthers a growing negative external perception of the organization in its entirety.