Rain, Rain Go Away From Playoffs

Let me get this straight… The Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees American League Championship Series game was called off Wednesday night because it was raining in St. Louis. Not a pitch was thrown in Detroit because a national weather forecaster on TV somewhere said it was going to storm big-time sometime within 100 miles of Comerica Park. Major League Baseball invited more than 40,000 fans out for an evening hoedown and then sent everyone home because of a phantom rain delay.

I know that sounds like a bunch of nonsense, but I don’t think that is any more nonsensical than what actually did happen for Game 4 of the ALCS. Or didn’t happen, as the case may be. It couldn’t have been that bad out or Jim Cantore would have been rushed to the scene to stand outside the park wearing some all-weather clothing as he was pummeled by high winds and lashing rain while speaking to a rapt nation.

Remember when it actually had to rain to have a rainout? Remember when there had to be precipitation in order to have a rain delay? Sorry, but this is dumb behavior. There is no place in the rules that states the weather has to be Arizona-perfect before the first pitch is thrown. Maybe because they are trailing 3-0 in the best-of-seven series the Yankees hired a weather conjurer to postpone their inevitable doom. If I was a fan at Comerica Wednesday night I would have been royally ticked off.

The Comerica Park grounds crew puts out the protective tarp for the “rain delay” of Wedesday’s Game 4 of the Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees American League Championship Series game, even though there was no rain. Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years we have become used to the idea that a baseball team would go to extrarordinary lengths to get a scheduled game in. Hours-long rain delays have become commonplace, sometimes like sitting on a plane on the runway. A monsoon had to strike before a game was called off. Now we have a playoff game postponed due to “the threat of rain.” The threat of rain? Give me a break. Just looking out the window there can be a threat of rain five days a week at my house. If I stayed home every day there was a threat of rain I would turn into Rip Van Winkle.

This is a joke, technology run amok over common sense. The game was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. The teams were ready to play at 8 p.m. The fans were in the stands at 8 p.m. It was NOT raining at 8 p.m. You start the game and play until the weather (if the weather) deteriorates to a point where it is not prudent to continue. Then you throw the tarp on the field and declare a rain delay. If it rains, it rains. If it rains and clears up, you continue.

Indeed, this was the pattern followed in St. Louis. There was a threat of rain in St. Louis, too, and the Cardinals-San Francisco Giants started on time. In fact they were in the seventh inning of Game 3 when the rain began and play was halted. Granted, a 3 1/2-hour rain delay, as was experienced at Busch Stadium because the weather did turn into a monsoon, was not ideal. But eventually the teams went back out on the field and finished the game with the Cardinals winning 3-1.

In Detroit, MLB was trying to explain the dry weather delay with the baffling phrase “to preserve the integrity of an uninterrupted contest.” Huh? Does that disqualify the validity of all rain delay-games past and future? Please.

Also something new I noticed this season was teams actually transferring live weather tracking onto their video boards to prove to fans in these circumstances that there really was supposed to be bad weather on the way. They did this in Detroit, presumably so the fans wouldn’t riot in the dry, pleasant evening weather. It did eventually rain in Detroit, though all fans might have been home by that time.

Wednesday night in Detroit Major League Baseball blew the call and delivered a blow to the integrity of the sport, never mind the uninterrupted contest. The only announcement that should have been made was “Play ball!”

Topics: ALCS Featured, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Rain Delays

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