10/25/08 10:16 PM ET
Rain a temporary setback for Game 3
First pitch by Phils' Moyer pushed back one hour, 31 minutes
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
A strong storm system passed over the Philadelphia area throughout the day and forced a delay of one hour and 31 minutes, though Commissioner Bud Selig said that he expected the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays to play uninterrupted baseball shortly after the 10 p.m. ET start time.
Though the forecast called for rainy and windy conditions stretching into the originally scheduled 8:35 p.m. start time, keeping the tarpaulin on the playing field until approximately 9:15 p.m., Selig said no consideration had been given to postponing Saturday's game -- the first World Series contest to be played in Philadelphia since 1993.
"I don't think the people here wanted that," Selig said. "The people here have been out tailgating since 3 o'clock this afternoon. My people here early this morning said they were out tailgating already. If we get the game started reasonably close to 8:35, there would be no reason to call it.
"If you call a game off every day starting April 6 because it rained some time during the game, you'd play until Feb. 8th. People are used to it, and by the way, the parking lots are jammed. The people are here."
With the diamond dried and a 55-degree October chill in the air, introductions of the Rays and Phillies began 11 minutes after the tarpaulin was removed by the Phillies grounds crew. Jamie Moyer threw the game's first pitch, a strike, to Tampa Bay's Akinori Iwamura at 10:06 p.m.
Speaking before the game, Selig said that general partner David Montgomery had told him the Phillies are "anxious" to play Game 3 of the World Series, which is tied 1-1 between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Rays manager Joe Maddon said that some members of his team had killed time by watching college football.
"Both teams are very cooperative -- everybody has been cooperative," Selig said.
Jimmie Lee Solomon, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, had said that the umpires and Commissioner's Office were making all decisions in concert, but he early in the afternoon expressed optimism that the contest would be played after the delay.
Ultimately, the decision on when and whether to play was in the hands of Selig. During the regular season, pregame postponements are controlled by the home club, and then by the umpires after a game begins. Selig will make those decisions during the World Series.
Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, told FOX earlier that once the game begins, it is not expected to stop.
"We'll keep assessing it on an ongoing basis, but it is a great field," DuPuy said. "All they really need is the time it takes for the pitchers to warm up to get the field in playing condition."
Both managers said in their pregame news conferences that the clubs did not expect to start on time, as rain drifted between drizzle and heavy downpours.
"We have gotten updates. From what I understand, it's not going to start on time, but possibly relatively close," Maddon said. "The proverbial window is like a 9:30 or so window, although this sounds like it may be a big bay window, where you actually could play a baseball game. They're saying after this weather clears out, it should be good for the rest of the night."
"They say we're going to be a little late, but we're going to play," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They say once it's out of here, it's out."
Phillies head groundskeeper Mike Boekholder was said to be reviewing hour-by-hour radar data presented to the club as a system passed north from the Washington, D.C., area.
Winds of more than 30 mph whipped the flags in center field intermittently, followed by periods of calm, though gates opened as planned at 5:30 p.m. The temperature remained in the mid-60s three hours before the scheduled first pitch, with a low in the high-40s forecast for Saturday.
Weather.com listed a 100 percent chance of precipitation at 8 p.m., dropping to 90 percent at 9 p.m., 70 percent at 10 p.m. and 50 percent at 11 p.m.
Maddon said that the comforts of Citizens Bank Park were helping the Rays cope; he joked that he might want to put starter Matt Garza in "a padded room ... so he can go there and bounce around for a bit," but reliever J.P. Howell was passing the time watching the matchup between Texas and Oklahoma State.
"You're fortunate to have a delay like this in this ballpark," Maddon said. "If you're in Fenway [Park], in that clubhouse, it gets kind of annoying. The clubhouse is maybe half this size. And when you have all the amenities and you get yourself a nice cheesesteak while you're waiting or watch a game on the tube, this kind of facility ameliorates that situation a bit and permits you to get through the moment.
"Knowing that it's not going to start on time helps our guys a bit. If there's a dramatic shift in that, they'll actually like that. For right now, we'll be OK."The World Series will go at least five games, meaning all three contests scheduled for Philadelphia will be played. The field at Citizens Bank Park is playable in a steady rain. The system in place allows the grass to drain and a sand-like substance is used to keep the dirt portion of the infield from saturating. As a backup, the system is equipped with a vacuum that pumps tons of water out of the drainage pipes. "We've been told by the Phillies that the field is in very, very good shape," Selig said. "One thing about new stadiums, but even the old stadiums, they have great drainage."
Forecast outlets are calling for a clear day and night on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday are shaping up as cooler days, with highs in the low-50s but very little chance of any rain.When the Phillies were last in the World Series in 1993, the third game between Philadelphia and the Blue Jays began after a rain delay of one hour and 12 minutes.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. National reporter Barry M. Bloom and reporter Matthew Leach contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.