Like '75 Series, rain adds intriguing element
ST. LOUIS -- The Big Red Machine was rolling toward its 1975 World Series championship over the Red Sox when the Boston skies opened. For three days.
It rained so long and hard Reds manager Sparky Anderson wondered if somebody should build an ark for his Cincinnati players.
I thought back to that Series when the weather and expected rain on Wednesday interrupted the Texas Rangers' march to what they hope will be the franchise's first World Series title.
The 1975 Series was the greatest of the 46 I've covered, but I've often wondered if it would have been as compelling had it not rained for three days and three nights in Boston. There were actually four days between Games 5 and 6.
The Reds seemed poised to dispose of the Red Sox in quick order. In Game 5, that is.
It's just as intriguing to speculate what the wisely called postponement in St. Louis for Game 6 will add to this already interesting, if not wacky, 2011 World Series.
The Cardinals, like the '75 Red Sox, benefit most from the rainout, even though it will be just one day.
I'm certain that's what Rangers manager Ron Washington was thinking when he kept repeating Wednesday afternoon: "We were supposed to play today, so you want to play."
After bouncing back from Saturday night's 16-7 pounding, the Rangers have won two straight close games. They were counting on carrying that momentum and their 3-2 lead into Game 6 before the Cardinals had a chance to figure out what happened.
Texas had the National League champs scrambling after Monday night. Tuesday's travel day and the rainout gives St. Louis a chance to reload.
After the second day of rain in '75, Anderson became fidgety. The Reds, like the Rangers, had a 3-2 lead and the Red Sox seemed beaten. I remember Sparky spending several hours one morning trying to find an indoor facility where the Reds could work out.
Game 5, won by the Reds, 6-2, was played in Cincinnati on Oct. 16. With the travel day, coupled with the three days of rain, Game 6 wasn't played at Fenway Park until Oct. 21.
That became the exhilarating 12-inning Boston classic won by Carlton Fisk's dramatic walk-off home run that struck the left-field foul pole just above the Green Monster; Fisk's dance around the bases has been seen by all ages and never gets old. It was one of the most memorable moments in World Series history.
There was Bernie Carbo's game-tying homer for the Red Sox in the eighth inning, Cincinnati reliever Will McEnaney pitching out of a bases-loaded situation with none out in the bottom of the ninth, Dwight Evans' magnificent catch to rob Joe Morgan of a go-ahead homer and then, of course, Fisk's blast that gave the Red Sox a 7-6 win.
The Reds came back the next night and won the Series, 4-3, on Morgan's ninth-inning RBI single.
There hasn't been a seven-game World Series since the Angels defeated the Giants in 2002. That has a chance to change this October.
The rainout will permit St. Louis manager Tony La Russa to bring back ace Chris Carpenter on three days' rest if there is a Game 7. Carpenter pitched seven strong innings Monday night before the Rangers rallied for their 4-2 win.
That alone is a plus for St. Louis, although the former Cy Young Award winner didn't fare well in the NL Division Series when he started against Philadelphia on three days' rest.
In '75, the postponements allowed Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson to bring back his two best pitchers, Luis Tiant (he won Games 1 and 4) and Bill Lee, for the last two games. They pitched, but weren't involved in the decisions.
La Russa downplayed the impact of the postponement.
"I don't think it adds anything to our competitive chances, nor theirs," he said.
Cardinals reliever Octavio Dotel said the extra day off will help.
"I'm not going to lie to you, it's always good -- a day extra for our bullpen and also for our starters, too," Dotel said. "I think it's good for everyone. We can have fresh arms for tomorrow."
Not getting a quick opportunity to finish off the Cardinals could have a psychological effect on the Rangers.
"We have a ton of experience dealing with these things," Rangers infielder Michael Young said. "I think people think we're going to sit in our hotel rooms and bite our nails all day. That's really not the case. We're going to get some rest, grab a bite to eat and come out tomorrow ready to play."
Most of the Rangers tried to downplay the obvious advantage the postponement gives St. Louis.
"This doesn't add more pressure or more stress or more relief or anything," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's just a day off."
But that extra day off can change the pattern of a World Series.
It happened in 1975 and it could be a huge footnote to the 107th World Series, which already has become special in its own way.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com; he's covering his 47th World Series. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.