When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal reported last week that the Brewers “vigorously objected” Friday night’s time change from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. at Wrigley Field, it fueled the division rivalry — and weekend series — even more.
Especially at this time of the year, any competitive advantage would be appreciated for either side, no doubt. Both teams are fighting for the division lead in the NL Central, where the Cubs have a five-game advantage over the Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals entering Friday.
While the Brewers — who had the day off on Thursday — were reportedly upset last week when they heard about the time change, Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought it was the right thing to do. He stood by that — and situations like this — for a while, and he didn't back down in his pregame media session.
"There’s no reason it shouldn’t always be a Friday night (game). Period," Maddon said. "It’s a big deal right now but it shouldn’t be. Friday night baseball is appropriate. It should always be appropriate. There’s plenty of time on the weekends to enjoy Saturdays and Sundays. I’m happy that it turned out this way but it should always be this way."
Surely, the Cubs were happy with the time change since they had to return to Chicago from Pittsburgh following their Thursday night game, which featured an impromptu 52-minute rain delay to start the game.
Though it may have given the defending World Series champions an extra few hours to rest, Brewers manager Craig Counsell understands why the change was made.
"It’s an advantage for them to have the game changed to tonight, yes," Counsell said. "Because nobody wants to sleep for five hours and then have to come out and play. So we would obviously have preferred the other way, but the game’s at 7, let’s go. Let’s go play."
If the scenario was flipped, would the Brewers feel the same way?
"If we had a chance to change it, I think we would have," said Counsell. "We would have tried to. Would they have let us? Maybe a bigger question. But that gets into the conspiracy part of the world."
Sounds familiar, right?
This obviously isn't the first time the Brewers had an issue with the Cubs this season.
In May, Counsell threw major shade at the North Siders after a scheduled game was postponed due to rain in which Milwaukee believed was prematurely called. The Brewers skipper half-jokingly said it was the first time his players were treated for sunburn after a rainout.
Friday's time change added another layer to a rivalry that's ready to boil over. And things could get interesting with less than a month of baseball left to play.