10/26/06 12:19 AM ET
Tigers stay loose as Game 4 rained out
Wednesday night a no-go for World Series at Busch Stadium
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
"Maybe it's a good omen," first baseman Sean Casey said on Wednesday night after Game 4 of the World Series was postponed by rain.
They can hope, but manager Jim Leyland isn't looking at it that way.
Three weeks ago Wednesday, the Tigers used what would've been Game 2 of their American League Division Series against the Yankees as motivation. Not only did they have to scramble for hotel rooms in New York City on what was supposed to be a getaway day, they didn't know the game was postponed until after the Yankees had found out, sending Justin Verlander out to warm up while Mike Mussina stayed inside.
"I think it got us fired up a little bit," Jamie Walker said, "because we didn't have a place to stay. We looked like brats shuffling around."
The delay was cited as a miscommunication, but many Tigers saw it as a slight. This latest rainout, Leyland pointed out, was totally different from communication and timing.
"What we went through with New York, we were playing right after that," Leyland said. "And going through this one, obviously we already had a week off, and then we had a day off for travel, and now we've got another night off in this one. Obviously, we're doing more sitting than we are playing."
Much of their Wednesday evening, obviously, was spent sitting. Tigers officials, including Leyland, met with representatives from Major League Baseball three different times over the course of the evening to try to figure out whether there was any hope for getting the game in.
Asked how he passed the time, Leyland said, "I smoked about a carton. Probably the worst day for my lungs all year."
Tigers players weren't quite as stressed.
"We've been a pretty close team the whole year," Curtis Granderson said, "but now we got another chance to just hang out a little bit more and joke around a little bit. The music was going, varied variety, from Latin to Guns N' Roses. I even played Kris Kross' 'Jump.' We were mixing it up, trying to keep everybody loose."
They also had the Weather Channel on all afternoon.
"Yeah, we did," closer Todd Jones said earlier in the evening, "and it was sunny and 83 in Miami. Doesn't do us a lot of good."
If the Tigers play on Thursday -- and that's an "if" at the moment, given the forecast -- it'll be just their fourth game in 12 days. Much as they'd like to halt the momentum of a 2-1 series deficit, they also admit that the layoff from last week has had an effect on them. Though it allows banged-up players like Ivan Rodriguez an extra day for their health, it doesn't do much for their timing.
"You can't fight it," Granderson said. "That's one of the things people were joking about. We might play until November. Who knows when this [weather's] going to finish up? But whenever it does finish up, whenever we do get out there, we'll be ready to go. Hopefully the fans will still be coming out."
If the series resumes Thursday, the lineup will remain the same. Leyland said before the game that he'd keep his rotation the same if there was a rainout. After the game, he said scheduled starter Jeremy Bonderman was still on for Game 4, but didn't elaborate after that.
It's not the ideal situation, but to Leyland, it's still better than trying to sneak in part of a game and then have a lengthy delay.
"There's a real touchy situation where neither the Commissioner of Baseball, nor the Cardinals, nor the Tigers, want to see a shortened World Series game," Leyland said. "And I respect the [heck] out of [the Commissioner] for that. I don't want to play for six months to go to the World Series and have it decided in five innings. Neither does [Cards manager] Tony La Russa. And most importantly, neither does the Commissioner."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.