Let it snow

Rain suspends Game 5, which the Rays and Phillies will try to finish Tuesday. That's one off day down, 156 to go before Opening Day.


King Kaufman
October 28, 2008 3:00PM (UTC)

This is a good thing, people. The first World Series game ever to be suspended because of weather, it's a good thing.

There are 159 days between Monday and April 5, which is the night of the first regular-season game of 2009. There had been baseball games tentatively scheduled for two of those nights, Wednesday and Thursday, Games 6 and 7, if necessary. Now there will be baseball played in anger on what had been one of the 157 off days.

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Which one, we don't know yet. Commissioner Bud Selig and the umpires suspended Game 5 in Philadelphia Monday in the middle of the sixth inning, the score tied 2-2. It was raining hard, B.J. Upton had just done the backstroke around the bases and Charlie Manuel was taking on water. The forecast said it wasn't going to get much better. They'll try to start again Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EDT.

The weather forecast wasn't looking very baseball-ish for the rest of the night Monday. It looks grim for Tuesday too, though there's reason for cautious optimism for enough of a dry spell to allow three and a half innings to be played. Wednesday it's supposed to snow. Thursday looks pretty nice.

Selig said the Rays and Phillies would play those last three and a half innings -- and extras if necessary -- in Philly if they had to wait till Thanksgiving. It won't be that long, but there is a slight chance of November baseball, if it takes a few days to get Game 5 in and the Rays win it and Game 6 too.

November baseball has happened only once, in 2001. The 9/11 attacks pushed the end of the season and the entire playoff schedule back a week, and that memorable Luis Gonzalez dying quail was hit on Nov. 4.

Next year baseball will play World Series games in November voluntarily for the first time. The whole season's being pushed back a week to make room for the second World Baseball Classic. If you liked Monday's action -- it was sort of like tuna fishing in high seas, but with a smaller strike zone -- you'll be rooting for Northern and Eastern teams that don't play in domes to make the World Series.

Nobody's winning any points for originality for saying that the season goes too deep into October and now November, potentially causing the most meaningful games of the year to be played in terrible weather. We went through this two years ago and we'll go through it again.

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If it were important enough to Major League Baseball to play the World Series in mid-October, when the chance of football weather is a little less, it would start the season a little earlier and schedule some double-headers. A few home dates' worth of revenue per team would be lost and the sport's showcase event would be a little less likely to be an aesthetic mess.

I think it would be a wise decision in the long run, forfeiting a little dough in the short term but, theoretically, garnering better October numbers in the long run for World Series in which the lead announcer on the national TV broadcast doesn't feel compelled to posit that the sloppiness of the infield had rendered a stolen base attempt impossible.

Joe Buck said that right before Upton stole second, allowing him to tie the game on Carlos Pena's single. And before we all have a good laugh at Buck's expense over that one, let me be the first to say I agreed with him when he said it.

But baseball's not going to make that decision. Selig rarely asks my advice, and even if I'm right about the long run, Selig's never been one to sacrifice short-term revenue for long-term gain. And there are enough warm weather and dome teams that the odds of a perfectly comfortable World Series played Halloween week aren't terrible.

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Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played in a dome, which is a whole nother kind of aesthetic problem. That leaves three and a half innings, maybe a few extra, to be played in the cold and wet. Not ideal, but better than an off day any old time.


King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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