Selig Keeps Eye on Weather

October 10, 2009 | 11:04 am | 14  

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. Ubaldo Jimenez, the Game 1 starter, will be on normal rest on Monday, and Aaron Cook, 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 Jason Hammel 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.

Tagged:

14 Comments »

  • WasatchRockiesFan | October 10, 2009 | 11:13 am

    Thanks for the info Tracy. Do you have any idea if Pedro Martinez will still pitch? Will Blanton or Happ take the ball for Game 3?

  • Townie | October 10, 2009 | 11:50 am

    Happ, Lee, Hamels.

    Sets up perfectly for the Phillies.

    Though the Rockies could skip Marquis as well, which might not be the worst thing.

  • David Martin | October 10, 2009 | 12:19 pm

    I agree that it sets up well for the Phillies, but playing a game in 20 degree weather, you may as well flip a coin to determine the winner. That is not real baseball. If the Rockies want to be the best, they are going to have to beat the best. Good call delaying the game.

  • robba | October 10, 2009 | 1:57 pm

    Tracy, with Selig keeping an eye on the weather, one would hope he’s keeping the other eye on his umpires. These guys are turning the game into a travesty. It’s not playoff-caliber baseball if the players can’t have a level of confidence that the umpires will get the calls right. What are Selig’s options on this issue? Thanks!

  • Tracy Ringolsby | October 10, 2009 | 3:23 pm

    Robba, don’t know that there are a lot of options.
    Umpiring has been very suspect.
    I will, however, say, before too much is made out of umpiring costing Twins their game, the baserunning that denied them scoring a run gets plenty of blame, too.
    I always go back to the `85 World Series and all the heat that Denkinger took. People seem to forget that Darrell Porter then has a passed ball and Jack Clark failed to catch a routine foul pop up. With either of those plays being made properly, Cardinals don’t lose Game 6. That, however, would have forced honest self-evaluation and it is easier to blame an umpire.

  • Chris | October 10, 2009 | 3:51 pm

    Tracy,
    With some of the suspect umpiring in the last few days (missed HBP call in DET/MIN tiebreaker game, blown base calls in both the BOS/LAA and COL/PHI LDS, plus the blown Mauer ground rule double not called in the MIN/NYY ALDS), do you think Bud Selig and the MLB owners will look at some of time of limited replay for 2010, and possibly some type of challenge system similar to the NFL? Some can complain about replay slowing down the game, but five of the eight playoff games so far were over 3 1/2 hours long.

  • robba | October 10, 2009 | 5:20 pm

    Tracy, I agree with your comment that Cuzzi’s blown call didn’t by itself cost the Twins the game. Poor baserunning and an enormous number of runners left on base lost the game for them. But a major league umpire just cannot blow that call.

    How does the umpire evaluation process work?

  • Tracy Ringolsby | October 10, 2009 | 6:43 pm

    Chris, personally I agree with the call on the HYBP call in the Minnesota-Detroit game. Why should players be allowed to wear baggy uniforms that hang far from the body and deke their way into getting on base. That ball did not hit a batter. it ticked a baggy, loose shirt sleeve. What players are allowed to get away with in terms of uniforms and padding has gone too far.

  • Tracy Ringolsby | October 10, 2009 | 6:45 pm

    Robba, supposedly managers grade umpires.
    My bottom line is there’s no tolerance with any mistake an umpire makes, but Matt Holliday drops a game-ending fly ball and the Dodgers rally to win and suddenly Wainwirght is complaing about the fans waving towels.
    There’s no excuse for umpires missing calls, which is what the umpires admitted after the call involving the Twins and Red Sox.
    The other thing is, I’m not sure there are more missed calls now than there used to be there is just more scrunity because of the access to the electronic media.

  • Agbayani | October 10, 2009 | 10:40 pm

    As I said about Hamels — and thankfully I was right — there’s nothing to fear about Happ.

    He’s a quite ordinary lefty. He’s no Cole Hamels, and he’s really no Cliff Lee. I actually fear Pedro Martinez more.

    Happ impressed people with a 12-4 record this year. And yes, he was a very nice surprise. But look at what he really did:

    FIP ERA: 4.33 (Pedro was right about the same)

    K/9: 6.45

    BB/9: 3.04

    And here’s the big ones:

    BABIP (batting average against on balls put in play): .270

    LOB %: 85.2

    This was a guy with incredible luck in both those areas.

    He’s a 26-year old guy who superficially appeared to have a breakout season, but really had a solid but very unremarkable season.

    The main benefit the Phillies get from the cold-out is the ability to come back with both Lee and Hamels for games 4-5. Happ vs. Martinez? I don’t think it’s likely to matter.

  • Storch | October 11, 2009 | 4:37 pm

    “To play a game with temperatures below 30 degrees, that’s silly,’’ Bud Selig

    As I write it’s Sunday, 3 hours till game time and it’s 33 degrees.
    Bud, Does that make tonight’s game Silly ?

    How about a doubleheader on Monday?

    Would TBS allow that?

  • Agbayani | October 11, 2009 | 6:14 pm

    I’m heading to the game in a few minutes here. Not a horrible night for baseball at all. It would be considered a fine night if the Broncos were on Sunday Night Football. Yesterday? With the dampness and the miserable day all day, there was no reason to play. Tonight? Not optimal, but October rarely is unless you play in a dome.

  • Tracy Ringolsby | October 11, 2009 | 9:06 pm

    34 at game time but as big as anything, no moisture and no wind.

  • Boog | October 12, 2009 | 2:13 pm

    If you see Joe Simpson tell him there’s no “Bird Dog’n” in Denver it’s to damn cold