October 09, 2011
Major League Baseball is having a difficult time figuring out this whole weather forecasting thing.
As you know, MLB suffered through quite an embarrassing ordeal in Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium, misreading the forecast and ultimately having a marquee Justin Verlander(notes) and CC Sabathia(notes) pitching matchup washed away less than two innings in. That game ended up being suspended and continued the following day, which certainly had a negative effect on both team's pitching plans, as well as travel plans for both them and the fans.
They had another rough night on Saturday, as two separate rainfalls in Game 1 of the ALCS caused two extended rain delays during the top of the fifth inning. Texas Rangers starter C.J. Wilson(notes) returned to the mound after the first one and clearly struggled to regain his rhythm. Verlander was again on the mound for Detroit, and he was unable to return after the second delay.
With forecasts not looking good for Sunday night, commissioner Bud Selig went into discussions with representatives from both teams, as well as with MLB vice president Joe Torre, as he hoped to avoid repeats of those two disasters. The final decision by all involved was to postpone the game, which became official approximately five hours before first pitch.
Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan explains that decision further.
"With the forecast that we had ... we didn't want to experience what we did last night; and with the forecast for this evening, it appears that it's going to be duplication of what we saw last night," Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. "I think the one thing we're concerned about is the integrity of the game and not [putting] either team in a situation where possibly the elements could affect the outcome of the game."
But here's the problem this time: As the time of Game 2's scheduled first pitch rolled around, no rain had fallen at the Ballpark in Arlington in the previous three hours, and that once daunting forecast had been reduced to mostly cloudy with a 10% chance of rain.
In fact, the weather was looking so good about 30 minutes prior to 6 p.m. locally that Rangers beat writer Anthony Andro tweeted the following:
I am wearing sunglasses as I leave Rangers Ballpark.
Follow-up tweets from Andro confirmed there was still no rain in the area a good 60 minutes after the scheduled first pitch.
Of course one can understand the motivation of all parties for erring on the side of caution in this case. Another rain-filled night of baseball is something none of us look forward to watching, just as the players don't look forward to playing in it. In fact, Saturday's soggy conditions might have played some role in the injury setback to Magglio Ordonez's(notes) right ankle, so that injury factor also weighs heavily in the decision.
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That said, was MLB wise to make the call as early in the afternoon as they did? Would they have been better served monitoring the forecast another hour or two to confirm their decision? Or were they simply doing a good service to the fans by saving them the effort and fuel to make an unnecessary drive?
Adam J. Morris of Lone Star Ball doesn't appreciate MLB's move:
We'll get a mid-day game tomorrow, that I will probably have to miss half of, that a lot of Rangers and Tigers fans will probably not get to watch because of the timing of the game, and that will probably be played in front of a less-than-capacity crowd because MLB decided it didn't want Fox to be inconvenienced this evening.
A lot of dynamics are in play here. Thankfully the forecast for Monday afternoon — at least for now — looks good.
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