Selig’s unilateral rule change prompts questions
PHILADELPHIA – You have questions, we have answers about what happened Monday night in Game 5 of the World Series.
This much you know: After the Tampa Bay Rays scored a run in the top of the sixth inning to draw even with the Philadelphia Phillies 2-2, the grounds crew placed the tarp on the infield at 10:40 p.m. ET, and 30 minutes later the game was declared officially suspended. You also know that an awful lot of people got wet.
Here’s what else you may want to know:
When will the game be resumed?
The game is tentatively scheduled to be resumed Wednesday at 8:37 p.m. ET, after Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig decided that the weather conditions were unacceptable to play Tuesday night.
“While obviously we want to finish Game 5 as soon as possible, the forecast for today does not allow for us to continue the game this evening,” Selig said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring tomorrow’s forecast and will continue to monitor the weather on an hourly basis. We will advise fans as soon as we are able to make any final decisions with respect to tomorrow’s schedule.”
People with Game 5 tickets will get to use those tickets when the suspended game is restarted.
Any chance MLB will decide it is a better idea to finish the game in Florida, since the Rays play under a roof?
None. “We’ll stay here,” Selig said. “We’ll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here.”
Don’t laugh. We are in Philadelphia, after all. Game 4 of the 1911 World Series between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics was postponed six days due to rain.
Will the game be replayed in its entirety, or do they pick up from where they left off?
They pick up from where they left off. The Phillies will be coming to bat in the bottom of the sixth, with the score tied 2-2. Cole Hamels, who was Monday’s starting pitcher, is scheduled to lead off the inning. He threw 75 pitches, so his work is done, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will replace him with a pinch-hitter. Grant Balfour, who was on the mound for Tampa Bay when the Phillies finished batting in the fifth, is still in the game, and Rays manager Joe Maddon said he expects Balfour will remain in the game.
The applicable rule regarding suspended games is Rule 4.12 (c): “A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams should be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension.
Are you sure? We thought if a suspended game was tied, they replayed the whole thing and only the stats counted.
That’s an old rule. The Playing Rules Committee changed it in 2007, after a recommendation that came out of meeting of team general managers in 2005.
The only time a tie game would be played in its entirety in the regular season is if a playoff spot was at stake and the teams involved had no other games scheduled between them. So that wouldn’t affect a suspended game in the World Series.
Has this ever happened before in the World Series?
No. There have been 40 postponements in Series history – 29 due to rain, one due to cold (1903) and a 10-day postponement as a result of the 1989 Bay Area earthquake. No official World Series game in its 104-year history has gone fewer than nine innings.
What if the Phillies had been leading 2-1 after 5½ innings, and the game was stopped because of the rain. Under baseball rules, wouldn’t the Phillies have won the game and thus the World Series?
That’s what nearly everyone thought. And that’s what it says in Rule 4.10 (c): “If a game is called, it is a regulation game:
(1) If five innings have been completed.
(2) If the home team has scored more runs in four or four and a fraction half-innings than the visiting team has scored in five completed half-innings;
(3) If the home team scores one or more runs in its half of the fifth inning to tie the score.”
But in his postgame media conference, Selig said that he made a judgment call before the game began, and informed officials of both teams, that he would not allow a rain-shortened game to take place in the World Series, no matter how long it meant waiting.
“I have to use my judgment. It’s not a way to end the World Series,” Selig said.
Did both teams understand Selig had modified the rule?
Selig insisted he informed both teams. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was “pretty confident” that was the case after speaking with Rays GM Andrew Friedman, but there were lots of players in the Rays clubhouse – including starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who said they had no idea. “I thought after five innings it was done and over and we don’t continue the game,” Kazmir said.
“We thought we had to score a run,” said rookie reliever David Price. “That’s kind of garbage, because people start to press, you know. That was like the ninth inning, added pressure for Carlos [Pena]. He’s up there thinking, ‘If I don’t get a hit right here, we lose.’ I don’t know, it should be done a little bit better than that.”
Pena said he didn’t think it was possible the game would be called early.
Similar confusion reigned in the Phillies clubhouse.
“They didn’t tell anyone,” said closer Brad Lidge, who thought the Phillies would have won if they had been leading when the game was stopped. “The [Rays] made it easy by scoring a run [and tying the game]. Absolutely, I thought, ‘That’s [MLB’s] out.’ ”
So, if the usual regulation-game rule wasn’t in effect, why wasn’t the game stopped sooner, before the playing field resembled mudders’ day at Aqueduct?
Players asked the same question.
“After I was done, watching the guys out there in the sixth inning, it felt like anyone at any moment could slip and hurt themselves,” Kazmir said. “Puddles everywhere, and after that hit by Pena, and seeing B.J. [Upton] going around third on his tippy-toes, I mean, one bad move it could be a serious injury.”
“From the third inning on, it felt like you weren’t getting any footing out there, you weren’t getting any grip, every baseball you got felt like it was a little water-logged. Just tough conditions.”
Hamels was more concise: “Those were the worst conditions imaginable that you could possibly pitch in.”
Selig said he consulted in the fifth inning with Mike Boekholder, the Phillies head groundskeeper, and that Boekholder said, “We’re OK.”
Selig said Boekholder then called “the weatherman.” Said Selig: “He said ‘Look, I think we’re OK, but let’s see what happens.’ And the problem was, it got worse. The winds changed.”
Umpire crew chief Tim Welke said the grounds crew stayed ahead of the rain in the first five innings, preserving what he called “the integrity” of the mound and the batter’s box. But when the rain began falling harder, the grounds crew no longer could keep up, and the game was suspended.
Baseball got lucky in Game 3. They waited an hour and a half to play, insisting that the bad weather would clear out, and it did. But why did they even start Game 5? Weren’t they looking at the same radar that Fox kept putting up on the TV screen during its broadcast?
Selig expects to get second-guessed about this one. This was almost as bad as the teams running out of pitchers in the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee, and Selig having to declare the game a tie.
He says he canvassed everyone involved – umpires, groundskeepers, managers, officials from both clubs – and had forecasts from three weather services (which he refused to name). “We were told at about 7:45 that there would be only one-tenth of an inch of rain between then and midnight or after,” Selig said. “So everybody in the room wanted to play.”
Count Cliff Floyd of the Rays among those wondering why they started the game in the first place.
“They should have banged it before they started,” he said. “You’re going to play the deciding game of the World Series in this? Hey, we’re just the players. You try to start figuring out things, you get yourself in a lot of trouble.
“I know one thing: From a player’s standpoint, it’s miserable. That’s not the way you want to play your last game like that, doesn’t matter if you’re up three to one or down three to one.
“For my teammates, I felt really helpless and sad that they were out there in those conditions.”
OK, so does either side gain an advantage?
You’d have to say the Rays. Hamels hadn’t lost a game this postseason, and he’s out, although if Game 5 gets pushed back to Wednesday, he could come back and pitch a Game 7 on three days’ rest. For that matter, Kazmir said he’d be available to come out of the bullpen as soon as Game 6.
The Rays also have to feel good about coming back in such extreme conditions, and that two of their studs, Pena and Evan Longoria, both came through with run-scoring hits after combining to go 0-for-31 in the first four games.
The Phillies have an advantage when Game 5 resumes because they’ll have 12 outs left. They get to bat four more times in regulation, the Rays only three.
So, who was most inconvenienced Monday night?
You mean, other than the thousands of folks who got drenched? Well, the Rays had checked out of their hotel and couldn’t get back in. They had to bus to Wilmington, Del., about 30 miles away, to find lodging.