Tough decision, but right call was made
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The scene stood as a snapshot of Major League Baseball's new reality, a model that we can expect to see when (if?) the late postseason returns to New York in the future.
Because baseball finds itself in a no-win proposition when it comes to these scenarios, the game's powers seem to have settled on a new strategy:
Better to look temporarily foolish than to have said foolishness preserved for history.
Better to postpone the game at 2:17 in the afternoon local time -- four hours and 48 minutes before first pitch -- in other words, than to hold a jewel event in lousy conditions, inviting a stoppage in play that would be discussed for the ages.
After checking myriad weather services, MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said, "They all were consistent in saying there was going to be rain during the game. Maybe not enough to stop it, but maybe enough to stop it. And that was enough to just make this decision."
Look, the playoffs are only getting longer, and let's step around any science and politics and just observe anecdotally that weather seems to be more of a factor than it used to be. There are only two ways to ensure a postseason free of environmental factors:
1. Hold the postseason in a neutral, warm-weather site. Hate it. Have you seen the passion of Cardinals and Rangers fans? The fun contrast of shivering in St. Louis' chill and sweating in Texas' heat? No thanks.
2. Put domes on all 30 ballparks. Never gonna happen. Too many teams don't want the roof, aesthetically.
So we're left with making the best of the current elements. And with the realization, thankfully, that the old way wasn't working.
Did you watch Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, with the Phillies trying to eliminate the Rays at Citizens Bank Park? Total nightmare. The umpires let the clubs play in untenable conditions, a blistering rain, until Tampa Bay tied the score at 2-2 in the top of the sixth. Then they suspended the game, eliminating the horrifying possibility of the Phillies ending the season in a rain-shortened affair; Bud Selig said afterward he would have invoked his "best interests of the game" clause to get in nine innings, and now the rules mandate so for all postseason games.
More recently and locally, how about the Yankees' playoff opener this year against Detroit? The suspension of Game 1 of the ALDS after 11/2 innings dramatically impacted the rest of the series, won ultimately by the Tigers.
In that case, Torre said at the time, the heavy rains defied all of their positive forecasts. But if the meteorologists call for bad conditions -- with good conditions coming here Thursday and Friday, as Torre stressed -- you might as well wait. And get the word out early.
"Because of the forecast, there was no reason to wait any longer," Torre said, "and the earlier we can do it, the more people can change plans and do what they need to do. And including the players and managers, too."
If the Cardinals win Game 6 behind Jaime Garcia, then you'd have to think they'll go with their veteran Chris Carpenter (who started Game 5) on three days' rest in Game 7. Whereas Texas manager Ron Washington is adamant that his Game 3 starter Matt Harrison (whom the Cardinals knocked around) would start Game 7 over Game 4 winner Derek Holland, who dominated St. Louis and would be available on four days' rest.
The perfect scenario is playing all games as scheduled. But to take the occasional early postponement in return for stopping in-game delays and suspensions? That's a trade any fan should accept.