The decision to keep the game going until the bottom of the sixth in the nagging cold and biting rain has to rank highly on MLB’s list of blunders. There was the 2002 All-Star Game that Commissioner Bud Selig chose to end in a tie, of course, but tonight’s baffler might even top that.
Unlike football, which is a game that can be played during the apocalypse, baseball requires precision down to the millimeter. Non-baseball fans often don’t understand why games aren’t played in inclement weather and it’s because it cheapens the game significantly.
Maybe anti-Phillies fans got some cheap schadenfreude laughs out of watching Jimmy Rollins go back a few feet, then race in 15 feet to attempt to catch a fly ball hit by Rocco Baldelli. Overall, it’s a mockery of the way baseball is meant to be played.
Obviously, I’m a Phillies fan and there’s no question that the umpires’ moronic decision to move the game forward only benefited the Rays, but I’d say the same thing if the Phillies were the beneficiaries. After Cole Hamels got two quick outs in the top of the sixth, B.J. Upton hit a grounder to Rollins, who booted it due to the poor playing surface and the wetness of the baseball. Upton then stole second in part because Hamels did a poor job of holding him on but also because it was incredibly tough on catcher Carlos Ruiz to get a handle on the baseball and make a strong, accurate throw 127 feet away. And Upton was knocked in on a single to left field by Carlos Pena.
Then the game was halted. (Insert me giving a very sarcastic thumbs-up)
In truth, the game should have been halted before it became an official game. I don’t care how many days you have to wait to get the full nine innings in, you want the fairest conditions in which both teams can play the sport’s most important game.
This is not just Philadelphia bittnerness; this is overall baseball fan bitterness.
As usual, I am gracious to FanGraphs for the use of their excellent charts. (Insert me giving a very non-sarcastic thumbs-up)
UPDATE: The game has been officially suspended to be resumed tomorrow at 8 PM EST. Again, the Phillies get shafted because their best pitcher and NLCS MVP is done at least for a couple days (more likely done for four days, as Cole Hamels doesn’t pitch on short rest), while the Rays have the option of either resuming with ALCS MVP Matt Garza or James Shields, who won Game 2 of the World Series. The Phillies get to use Brett Myers, who’s been more impressive with his bat than with his pitching, and then Jamie Moyer, who’s been hit or miss in the post-season.
I’ve been reading some point/counter-points and there’s really no argument that the delay benefits the Rays exponentially. Mitch Williams made a great point on Comcast SportsNet that Hamels pitched in the sixth inning — when he gave up the tying run — on a sloppy mound. When play resumes, the Rays’ pitcher will have a freshly-manicured mound.