While NASCAR is often criticized for its lack of noon start times, fans have at least seen a willingness to move up start times to avoid bad weather.
It might not always pay off, but NASCAR has shown on countless occasions throughout the 2023 Cup Series season that they are willing to move up the start times of races if inclement weather — or any kind of weather that would result in a red flag — is projected for later on.
NASCAR often faces criticism for its influx of 2:30 p.m. ET and 3:30 p.m. ET start times over the last decade and a half or so, given the fact that many races used to begin at 12:00 p.m. ET or 1:00 p.m. ET.
Such frustration is understandably amplified whenever it starts raining or storming shortly after a mid-afternoon race begins when no such weather had been present earlier.
Nevertheless, NASCAR’s efforts to move up start times, whether by a few minutes or up to an hour, to work around the weather are underappreciated.
But after what happened at Citi Field this past Thursday, NASCAR’s ongoing efforts should be praised.
The Miami Marlins currently find themselves in a tight NL Wild Card battle with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs, and the Cincinnati Reds.
The highest finisher of these four teams is set to travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies in the opening round, with the second highest finisher is set to travel to Milwaukee to take on the NL Central champion Brewers. The other two will be eliminated.
In the top of the ninth inning of Thursday’s game against the New York Mets, the Marlins scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead. But with two outs, the game was delayed due to rain, and it was ultimately suspended with four total outs remaining.
Given how slim the margins are between these four contenders, the result of the Marlins vs. Mets game could prove massive in the MLB playoff picture.
If it turns out that the result of this game could impact playoff seeding, which likely won’t be known — by the Marlins or by their Wild Card rivals — until the final full day of the regular season this coming Sunday, it is set to be contested on Monday afternoon.
This would create a need for the Marlins to travel to Citi Field just to spend about 20 minutes finishing a game against a disappointing Mets team with literally nothing to play for, all to find out where (if anywhere) they will be traveling to the following day.
Any other potential Wild Card teams will also need to wait until Monday to find out their travel plans for Tuesday, and the Brewers and/or Phillies may not know their opponents until the last minute.
The worst part about it? This game would have been over, barring extra innings, if the start time had been moved up. Everybody knew that rain was coming, and there was no precipitation for quite some time leading up to the first pitch. But no change was made, and now the Marlins — and pretty much the rest of the National League — are paying the price.
So the next time you want to criticize NASCAR for not having any more noon start times, don’t forget that it could be worse.