Silver lining: Another day of baseball
Even with rainout, pastime is in its element in great outdoors
PHILADELPHIA -- The Walt Whitman Bridge is one thunderous home run away from Citizens Bank Park. "I take it every day," Bonnie Clark, the first-year vice president of communications for the Phillies, said, smiling. "It's right here."
She was walking out of the press box in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after the first suspended game in World Series history, and that was notable because of a famous baseball quote penned by that bridge's namesake:
I see great things in baseball. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism, tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set, repair those losses and be a blessing to us.
Yes, one of the most beloved writers in American history said it was so, and we believed him. We still believe him. It is one of the most reproduced quotes in the history of the national pastime, because time honored it. Once in a while it is tested, like right this very minute, but eventually the skies clear and an outdoor ballgame prevails.
Game 5 of the 104th World Series will be resumed whenever that moment finally occurs. Phillies starter Cole Hamels retired the Rays' Evan Longoria on a fly to center, ending the top of the sixth inning on Monday night, and then the infield couldn't take any more water. The Rays, facing elimination, had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the Phillies.
Confusion reigned throughout the concourses, jam-packed with fans seeking cover, and then came the announcement that the game was suspended and officially scheduled to resume Tuesday, honoring their same tickets. In actuality, it will resume on whatever day Mother Nature lets the game go on. More rain is in the forecast for Tuesday.
There is only one way to look at it: There is more baseball, more great things to see. That is how Walt Whitman would have seen it. A crowd of 49,540 will be able to come back and be filled with more oxygen, relieved of its nervous, dyspeptic ways. Fans worldwide will tune in again whenever play resumes, repairing their losses, a blessing.
It is as if the baseball gods cast more clouds, refusing to let a wondrous season go on the last Monday night of October. Both teams and their fans have waited so long for this, and the wait continues. Maybe it is a magical intervention in the storybook season of the Rays, who may no longer have to deal with Hamels (barring days of rain) and are in position to take the series back to Florida if they win the resumed game. Grant Balfour will be on the mound for the Rays whenever play resumes, in exactly the same situation.
"When the World Series is over, baseball is over," said Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who along with Longoria ended a serious offensive drought and contributed to the comeback. "We know it's going to be over pretty soon. But we definitely want to extend it to the last day. That's something all of us in here want to do. So it feels great to know that there's still life. We still have a heartbeat."
GAME 5 SUSPENSION
|Commissioner Selig cited rule 4.12(a)(6) in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, enacted for the 2007 season, any official game halted with the score tied "shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date."
In this scenario, rule 4.12(c) for suspended games is enacted: "A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."
Prior to 1980, a game called due to inclement weather would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading, 2-1, since Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. In 1980, the "reverting back" was discontinued and the game was henceforth declared a suspended game. Rule 4.12(a)(6) was added after the 2006 season so that any game suspended after becoming official would be declared a suspended game. Therefore, Game 5 will resume with the score tied at 2.
"We've waited 28 years, so what's another day?" asked George Binczewski Jr. of Horsham, Pa., exiting the ballpark amid a slightly deflated yet still hopeful throng on the Hall of Fame Club level. "It takes the starch out of it, but I'll be right back here."
"It's unfortunate, it truly is -- not a perfect last outing," said Hamels, who is expected to be pinch-hit for when the game resumes, meaning he can still become the first pitcher to win five starts in a postseason if the Phillies take a lead in the sixth and hold on to win.
"But I'm going to have to give it to Mother Nature this time and go out there and try to close out another World Series next year."
I see great things in baseball. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen . . .
Commissioner Bud Selig cited rule 4.12a, section 6, in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, "a game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date" for a number of reasons, with section 6 specifying "a regulation game that is called with the score tied." In this scenario, the rule (4.12c) for suspended games is enacted:
"A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."
Prior to the introduction of this rule following the 2006 season, the suspended game would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading 2-1, because Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. But that is no longer the case, and Game 5 will resume with the score tied, 2-2.
"I don't want to win in 4 1/2 innings, and I don't think the players do, either," said Phillies season-ticket holder Dan McElaney of nearby Delaware County. "They're going to want to win it in a full nine. I'll be back to see that any way possible."
Hamels, who had to resort to "all fastballs" during the torrential top of the sixth, concurred without hesitation.
"That would have been the worst World Series win in the history of baseball, and I would not have prided myself on winning like that," he said.
If you asked 100 baseball fans whether they would rather see baseball indoors or outdoors, almost all of them would choose the latter. It is simply the grand old outdoor game, played mostly in the summertime, and it's meant to let your cares float away into the open sky while men brandish heavy wooden bats to slug thrown balls.
That is how the game was in Whitman's day, in the 1800s. He would have been a dogged opponent of a domed stadium, but the strange part is that if you look at three of the past four games, Tropicana Field certainly has had something going for it. In Game 2, it rained incessantly, but there was neither a delay nor a rainout because of a roof. Game 3 featured a nearly two-hour rain delay and the latest (10:06 p.m. ET) start time in World Series history. Now we are in the midst of the first suspended game in the Fall Classic.
The scene at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night never will be forgotten by those in attendance. The concourses were clogged with fans who sat or lay on the floors, finding any space to stake out while they all took cover and then waited. It was the wait that was the hardest part, but after waiting since 1980 for another world championship, there were widespread feelings that it was just part of the game, that wonderful out-of-doors game that fills them with oxygen, again and again.
You never can forget the way that infield reflected the bright stadium scoreboards, its shimmering pools of water puddling everywhere in a glossy glow. The way B.J. Upton slid into second base in the mud, like a boy.
"I thought it was back in Beaumont, Texas, 1985," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We played a game like that when I was with the Midland Angels. The last out was made on a rooster tail to the shortstop. So I really thought it was going to end that same way tonight, somehow.
"It happens. You know what, we're not going to complain about it. We're not crying about it. We talked about it before the game. That's how it played out. That's exactly how it played out. I was not concerned, quite frankly. I mean, these are the rules, this is what's going on. This is the game. You play it and you see what happens at the end."
Baseball is not supposed to be an easy game. Clark knows that well. Many people have come up to her and said it's not supposed to be this easy, to just come here from a long tenure as vice president at QVC and suddenly be propelled into a season on the brink of a Phillies world championship. Hey, that is baseball. The game surprises you, and rewards you, just as often as it frustrates and confounds you. Sometimes you can make it look easy.
Sometimes you sit in concourses for a while with other huddled masses, waiting for the word, waiting to see whether you have a chance to celebrate a world championship that night or come back the next day, or later, to see the game resume.
The game is gone for a long time after the World Series is decided. There comes a dark day in late December or January when it is missed ever so badly. You know what those times feel like, and you might be going through them already if your team is one of the 28 not participating in this Fall Classic. When there is another chance for at least one more day of the national pastime, then you just go with it, like Maddon said, and you come back to the ballpark or turn the TV back on and repair your losses once more.
That was Whitman's game then, and it is his game now.
I see great things in baseball.
Repeat it over and over, in case it helps right now. The skies eventually clear, Phillies fans will drive over the Walt Whitman Bridge to see their team play again, and they will be filled with oxygen once more.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.