10/29/08 9:33 PM EST
Game 5 has same, different feel
After 46-hour rain delay, relievers were ready to go from start
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Any disruptions to the pregame routine would come later, mainly because the bullpens didn't have the first five innings to hang out, eat sunflower seeds, talk shop or whatever it is relievers do while their starter is working.
No, on this night, the game was all about the bullpens -- from start to finish. And that meant they had to be ready to go by game time, not two hours after.
"Well, probably, we'll have two guys warming up before the game," Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey theorized around four hours before first -- er, 188th -- pitch. "There's three or four guys that are going to need to be ready to pitch in that first inning. It will be a little different. The only thing that will happen is instead of strolling out right prior to game time, I'm sure they'll get out there a little bit sooner."
Then Hickey paused, and started to laugh.
"You know what?" he said. "I'm not sure. I don't think we've ever done that before."
Hickey, like everyone else who has ever played or watched baseball, never has waited out a 46-hour World Series rain delay, until now.
As it turned out, the routines weren't that off-kilter. Phillies reliever Ryan Madson headed to the 'pen a little earlier than the rest of the relief corps, which headed out at 8:23 p.m. ET. Following a series of high-fives with Evan Longoria and Rocco Baldelli, the Rays' bullpen, minus Grant Balfour, made its journey out around 8:15.
The scene outside of Citizens Bank Park was different this time than it was for Games 3, 4 and the first 5 1/2 innings of 5. The normal buzz was somewhat subdued this time, with far fewer fans packing the streets and far fewer league-approved parties under way.
"Empty streets outside -- visibly empty," said one observer. "Not as many people, parties, music. Everything was empty."
Inside the ballpark, however, crowd enthusiasm wasn't a problem. Thirty minutes before the game resumed, the stadium was about three-fourths full, and the concourses were packed. By the time Petty Officer First Class Dorcus Whigham finished singing God Bless America prior to first pitch, Citizens Bank Park was again rocking, suggesting that those who lost their ticket stubs had successfully been reissued another one.
The 46-hour rain delay sparked creativity among several sign-toting Phillies fans: "Game 5 1/2," one read. Another: "Tonight's forecast: Champagne showers."
Following the announcement of the "current lineup," the game was on. Not a moment too soon.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.