Monday, October 27, 2008
Commish would not have allowed Phils to get rain-shortened win
PHILADELPHIA -- Bud Selig was determined there wouldn't be a rain-shortened World Series game on his watch.
Selig met in the umpires' room with officials of both teams an hour before the start of Game 5 on Monday night and told them no matter how long it took, the game would not be cut short.
"I was not going to allow that to happen," he said, clutching a rule book in his left hand.
When the Phillies and Rays were suspended with the score 2-2 after 5½ innings Monday night, Selig explained that the game would be played to completion -- even if there was the longest rain delay in history.
"I have to use my judgment," he said. "The game would have been in a rain delay until weather conditions allowed us to continue. And that might have been 24 hours or 48 hours or who knows?"
While regular-season games can end after the trailing team has made 15 outs, there has never been a shortened postseason game. Selig did not want a situation where the Phillies, who lead the Series three games to one, could have been ahead, and then won the World Series when the game was called several hours later without completing it.
"It's not a way to end a World Series," he said. "I'm on very solid ground."
Selig and a gaggle of officials met before the game to go over what would happen. The meeting included Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, the managers of both teams, MLB chief operating officer Bob DuPuy and other top officials from the commissioner's office.
"Both Andrew and myself, we wanted to make sure that if this game was to be played, we wanted it to play to the conclusion," Gillick said. "I wanted it played fairly, both sides, Tampa Bay and ourselves. We were aware that the commissioner could, even with the score not tied, could continue this game later and call a rain delay until the proper conditions did exist."
Tampa Bay agreed with the decision.
"There was significant discussion before the game and before Saturday's game about the conditions," Rays president Matt Silverman said, referring to Game 3 whose start was delayed 91 minutes. "The decision was made ... the game wouldn't end without playing the full nine innings."
As rain intensified in the middle innings, umpires had the grounds crew put drying material on the infield dirt, the mound and the plate.
"The first thing we look for is the integrity of the mound and secondly the integrity of the batter's box. And those were maintained throughout," crew chief Tim Welke said.
Selig went downstairs in the fourth inning as puddles started to form in the infield. He said he "was getting very nervous." Selig and his aides met in the fifth inning with Welke and first-base umpire Tim Tschida. Then Selig sat with groundskeeper Mike Boekholder.
By the middle of the sixth, just after the Rays' Carlos Pena had tied the score with an RBI single and Evan Longoria flied out, the umpires had seen enough.
"The more Diamond Dust you put on, the quicker it becomes wet again, and the field started to become very slick," Welke said. "At that point we couldn't go any farther because of the infield."
Baseball has changed its rule on suspended games several times.
Prior to 1980, the rule in this situation said that if a game was called after the visiting team tied the score or went ahead, and the home team had not finished batting, the score would have reverted to what it was before the inning. The rule was changed after the Baltimore Orioles beat the visiting Yankees 3-0 on Aug. 13, 1978, when New York scored five runs in the top of the seventh only to have them wiped out because of the weather.
Under the new rule, when the visiting team scored to tie or go ahead and the inning wasn't completed, the game was suspended.
If the Phillies had completed the sixth inning without scoring, it would have been an official tie game under the rule from 1980-2006 and would have been replayed from the start. But under the rule change made in November 2006, if that had happened now, it would have been a suspended game, too, because ties were eliminated starting with the 2007 season.