Selig Keeps Eye on Weather
DENVER – As long-time owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Bud Selig consistently dealt with the challenges of inclement weather, and whether games should be played or not.
As commissioner of baseball, Selig has become even more attentive to the weather conditions, and the problems created by the cold and rain that forced a mid-game suspension during last year’s World Series admittedly heightened Selig’s awareness.
The lessons weren’t lost on Selig.
Ten hours before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown in Game 3 of the NL Division Series between the Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field on Saturday night, Major League Baseball officially announced that the game was postponed.
Give Selig credit.
He got this one right.
A fall storm has hit the Rocky Mountains. Roads north and west of Denver are closed. Snow continued to fall during the day Saturday, and the forecast was a sub-freezing temperature when first pitch was scheduled at 7:30 p.m., Denver time, on Saturday night.
There was no reason to wait all day, causing fans and employees to try and get to the ballpark, only to have reality set in.
“To play a game with temperatures below 30 degrees, that’s silly,’’ Selig told insidetherockies.com. “When I heard the forecasts on Friday, I alerted all parties involved that there was a very strong possibility the game would be postponed. What happened overnight only reinforced the decision.’’
There is nothing like the fall in the Rocky Mountains.
There was sunshine on Friday in Denver with temperatures in the mid-50s. There was snow and cold on Saturday, a forecast for a temperature of 29 at first pitch with a wind-chill factor that would make it feel like 21. Forecasts for Sunday and Monday call for highs in the mid-50s, and the lowest in the mid-30s.
It’s not the Caribbean, but it’s not bad.
“We made the only call we could,’’ said Selig. “This is a no-brainer with the weather.’’
Neither team is complaining.
Neither was anxious to face the weather challenges, and both teams can benefit from the day of delay before a Game 4. Neither had announced a potential Game 4 starter, and it’s just as well.
With the extra day, the Phillies, were able to juggle their pitching plans. They were able to turn to lefty J.A. Happ for Game 3, instead of Pedro Martinez, who would have pitched on Saturday. They also have their top two starts set for Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 5.
Cliff Lee, who started the 5-1 Game 1 victory and has allowed two runs in 16 innings against the Rockies this season, will be on regular rest for Monday’s game, and that would open the door for Cole Hamels, the Game 2 starter, to start a game 5, if necessary, in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
The Rockies never announced whether they would go with Jason Marquis or Jose Contreras in Game 4. Now they don’t need either., the Game 1 starter, will be on normal rest on Monday, and , who started the Rockies 5-4 victory in Game 2, will be rested for what would be a win-or-go-home Game 5, if it is needed. They will stick with in Game 3.
Selig’s concern, however, wasn’t the rotation of the participants, but the good of the game. He had concerns about the sellout crowd, and the general playing conditions that could affect the health and welfare of the players.
“I did this for nearly 40 years in Milwaukee, where we regularly dealt with weather issues,’’ said Selig. “I have empathy for what the impact is on all the parties involved.’’
And that was driven home in the World Series last year.
Aware that bad weather was looming, Game 5 was started, Selig having told both teams that he was not going to have a World Series decided by a game of less than nine innings. The weather arrived earlier than forecast, and by the sixth inning, the infield at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia was underwater.
As soon as Tampa Bay scored to tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth, the umpires ordered the field covered. Selig eventually ruled that the game was a “suspended’’ game and would pick up in the sixth inning when weather permitted.
Three World Series games had ended as ties – in 1907, 1912 and 1922 because of darkness – no The 1989 World Series had 10 days between Games 2 and 3 because of an earthquake that shook the Bay Area shortly before Game 3 between Oakland and the A’s was scheduled to begin.
No World Series game, however, had ever been suspended before Oct. 27 last year.
It was two days later – Oct. 29 – before the game resumed, the Phillies eventually winning to wrap up the World Series in five games.
“Last year has increased my resolve to take no chances,’’ Selig said in reference to starting a game in inclement weather.
The weather is a bigger issue than ever because the post-season runs later into the calendar than ever.
This year, if a Game 7 is played in the World Series – without any weather delays – it is scheduled for Nov. 5.
By comparison, the 53rd anniversary of Don Larsen’s perfect game – for the Yankees against Brooklyn in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series – was on Thursday, Oct. 8.
But then back in 1956, it was a 154-game regular-season schedule, not 162 games, and there was one post-season event – the best-of-seven World Series – not three rounds – a best-of-five Division Series followed by best-of-seven for the League Championship Series and World Series.