11/01/09 2:11 AM EST
Selig makes right call to play after rain
Hour-plus delay at start is only interruption in Game 3
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
With foul and rainy weather hovering over and around Citizens Bank Park, Commissioner Bud Selig convened a number of meetings with on and off-the-field baseball officials and decided to play Game 3 of the World Series, a game the Yankees eventually won, 8-5.During the Fall Classic, that decision rests solely with the Commissioner, and Selig didn't want a repeat of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and Rays here when Game 3 was delayed for nearly three hours and Game 5 had to be suspended and finished two days later. "That certainly played into the deliberations; obviously, the Commissioner wanted to avoid what happened last year," Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer told MLB.com after the game. "This was a different situation and the rain was supposed to stop. All the forecasts were consistent and he applied them." That may be it for weather problems here this weekend, with cool temperatures and little precipitation expected for Games 4 and 5 on Sunday and Monday nights. But on Saturday evening, Selig went into the umpires' dressing room in the corridor leading toward the field at 6:55 p.m. ET and conducted a lengthy meeting that included Yankees manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and their general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. When Girardi exited the room at 7:15, he said that he anticipated the game would be played. "I thought Mr. Selig and Major League Baseball did a good job of keeping us informed and telling us what could possibly happen," Girardi said after the Yanks took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. "We knew that we were going to play, we just didn't know when we met at 7 if we were going to start on time. We felt that we had a really good chance, but the rain that came at 7:30 was harder than we expected, so it delayed the game. When I left that room, I knew we were going to play tonight, I just didn't know exactly what time we were going to start."
A half-hour before game time, a steady storm pounded the ballpark and weather maps showed it racing through the area. The question was how long it might take for the storm to dissipate. Last year, Selig monitored the situation before Game 3, but the storm stalled and hovered much longer than anticipated, causing the long delay.A week ago at Yankee Stadium, MLB postponed Game 6 of the American League Championship Series rather than face an evening of incessant rain delays. The Yanks wrapped up the series against the Angels the next evening. Thus, there was no chance of a 10 p.m. ET withdrawal at the Bank on Saturday. "We wanted to get this game started as soon as possible or not at all," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. "We monitored the weather pretty much all day. When the Commissioner got down here, we met with the clubs and talked with the umpires. We talked with the groundskeepers, who monitor their own weather service, plus the one that we commissioned. "We were all in agreement that the system could be gone at about 8:15. We just weren't sure of the duration, although it looked like it would last about 15-20 minutes." The decision had several ramifications: Selig didn't want to pull the tarp off the field, begin the game and then have to intermittently delay it. He also didn't want to call off the game with a crowd of 40,061 in the stands and no rain falling. "Obviously, you're dealing with weather that tends to change pretty rapidly," said Gerry Davis, the crew chief and left-field umpire on Saturday night. "We were ready to go and then a couple strands that were separated converged and caused the next rain to be heavy. So we thought we better wait and make sure we didn't start the game and lose any pitchers. In a game of this magnitude, you don't want to start the game and have a long delay and force [the managers] to go to different pitchers." The delay lasted one hour, 20 minutes, part of the time spent with the groundskeepers lingering near the tarp and little rain falling. It did wreak havoc on at least one pitcher, Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, who earned the win, but said he was never able to find a consistent groove. "For me, I've had a lot of rain delays this year already, and I feel like I've been pitching in a lot of rain," Pettitte said. "But it affected me a little bit today. I was heated up and ready to go and felt like I was in a real, real good place mentally. But right as I was about to walk out the door to go to the bullpen, they shut me down. "[That changed] the way I've been feeling this postseason. I felt out there in the first inning that I wasn't quite as locked in. All game I never felt like I was in a really good place." But in the end, it worked out well for Pettitte and certainly for MLB. The Yankees left-hander bested Phillies counterpart Cole Hamels, and despite allowing the defending champs to take a 3-0 lead in the second inning, he worked six innings of five-hit, four-run ball. The Phillies' left-handed hitters were 1-for-10 against him, including an 0-for-9 collar for the trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. For Selig, although the game began in a drizzle, the temperature was moderate all night and the game was played without any delay in 3:25. It was a stellar performance. "[The Commissioner] was in the umpires' room," DuPuy said. "He had several weather forecasts and consulted them regularly. He kept the teams advised and he started the game as soon as it was practical. I give him all the credit."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.