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10/24/07 6:21 PM ET

Rain a likely factor for Game 1

Steady rainfall expected tonight at Fenway Park

BOSTON -- The 103rd World Series between the Rockies and Red Sox is scheduled to start with a first pitch at 8:35 ET tonight, and from all accounts, rain is likely to interfere to some degree and now poses a significant threat to Game 1.

"We always try to play games when scheduled if possible," Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy said of the ominous forecast. "Obviously, player safety and not burning starting pitchers if the game does not start or is shortened are concerns, as is the comfort of the fans in attendance. Ultimately the decision will be made by the Commissioner taking all these factors into account."

"Bring the GoreTex" was the morning advice to Red Sox fans on the local NPR news radio station in Boston, WBUR. Indeed, the best-case scenario seems to be drizzle during the game and steady-to-heavy rain holding off until 11 or 12. It could be one of those nights when you root for the game to become official in the fifth.

"I think we're good until about the middle of the game, and then after that all bets are off, and we'll see if they decide to play through it," Terry Eliasen, executive weather producer and meteorologist at CBS Ch. 4 in Boston told MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. "If they put the tarp out, they probably won't start the game again.

"We're dry here right now, and for the next several hours we will remain dry. The leading edge of the heavy rain is just coming up on Long Island and the Mid-Atlantic states. We still have a good three or four hours before that hits us. We'll start the game, get it going under dry conditions. It is going to rain during the game, and between 10 or 12 o'clock tonight, that steady-heavy rain will hit the area. It's going to be fairly steady through the evening into early tomorrow morning. It's not like we'll have to wait for a heavy shower to go by and then we'll be in the clear."

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Eliasen said they have "a few models, and the more optimistic would be not till toward the end of game, toward 11 or midnight. Lighter showers or drizzle and then heavier weather comes in after the game." But, he added, "the more likely scenario is this: Game starts around 8:30, and if it doesn't end until 11 or 12, I would guess there will be steadier and heavier rain at Fenway."

Knock on the closest wooden bat, but there has been no postponement by weather yet this postseason. Last year, there were four rainouts. It happened once in the Division Series round, twice in the League Championship Series, and then Game 4 of the World Series at St. Louis had to be pushed back a day because of rain. That was a huge issue, because Cardinals fans who were holding tickets to the original Game 4 thus were able to keep those and watch the team clinch the world championship; fans who held original Game 5 tickets wound up watching Game 4 instead.

A devout member of Red Sox Nation himself, Eliasen said he is well aware of the American League champions' penchant for taking dramatic postseason games way, way past midnight. Then again, he knows they have ace Josh Beckett on the mound, although throwing a classic postseason shutout at that Rockies offense would be a chore.

"[The Red Sox] are classic for taking a lot of pitches and prolonging these games," he said. "Having watched every bit of every game here and gotten a lack of sleep myself, I can attest that their games are always long. Maybe the Rockies will swing at all first pitches.

"You hate to see the first game of the World Series shortened by rain. My guess is they'll try to play it no matter what. They can't wait it out. It won't stop for a while if it starts raining steady and heavy."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.