10/28/08 7:51 PM ET
In Series annals, this delay is minimal
Four Classics have endured multiple-day breaks, lastly in 1989
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
For now, it's only one day without baseball. In that sense, 2008 has not yet joined the four previous World Series that were interrupted for multiple days:1911, six days: Rain in, alas, Philadelphia kept Game 4 between the hometown A's and the New York Giants from getting off the ground for almost a week. 1962, three days: Rain kept Game 6 at bay in the first West Coast Series for the Giants. They eventually forced a Game 7 but the Yankees prevailed at Candlestick Park in a classic finish. 1975, three days: It was The Curse vs. The Big Red Machine, and the Machine had a 3-2 advantage before Game 6 was pushed back three times. Carlton Fisk put a dent in The Curse with his famous 12th-inning homer to end Game 6. After Game 7, the curse would live another 29 years. 1989, 10 days: This time, it wasn't rain but the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake that struck just before Game 3 was to start, and the Bay Bridge Series became historic for a reason no one could have fathomed. The A's returned from the extended break to sweep the Series from the Giants. Just how long a break the 2008 World Series will have to endure remains to be seen, but already there are natural questions: How will the break affect each team's pitching? Will it help some players to recover from injury or fatigue? How will the delay affect the competition? History answered those questions for the four previous long delays. However, comparing how things worked in 1911 vs. now is a bit like comparing Shibe Park to Citizens Bank Park -- it's a whole different universe. After all, the A's used exactly three pitchers in that six-game series, not exactly a corollary to today's game. And the 1989 delay is in a category of its own, not only because of the length of the break but because of the traumatic nature of the cause. The other Bay Area interruption -- the 1962 Series -- saw the Yankees move ace Whitey Ford up to Game 6 in about the only significant maneuvering, although both clubs drove 80 miles to Modesto, Calif., to work out. The Ford move was to no avail, setting up a Game 7 that ended up a 1-0 shutout for the Yankees and Ralph Terry. But not before Willie McCovey's screaming liner with runners on second and third went directly into second baseman Bobby Richardson's glove for the final out. The delay in the '75 World Series might have upped the ante on that drama, and had quite a bit more between-games activity: Once the delay reached a second day, the Red Sox were fully comfortable starting ace Luis Tiant a third time in an effort to even the series in Game 6. If the game had been played on Oct. 18 as scheduled, he'd have been on just two days' rest after a complete-game victory in Game 4. On the flip side, Hall of Fame Reds manager Sparky Anderson also announced on the second day of the delay a change in his rotation. He'd go with Gary Nolan in Game 6, not Jack Billingham -- in part, he said, because Nolan hadn't pitched in relief before and Billingham had. "If we don't start Nolan, we might as well send him home," said Anderson, who'd already heard from Fred Norman about his pitching choices. That didn't appease Billingham: "I'm upset. I'm steaming." To which Anderson replied, "Good. If he wasn't, I'd say he's gutless." The shuffle left Don Gullett, who would have gone on normal rest if the game had been played the day of the second postponement, for a deciding Game 7. The Reds held a light workout at Tufts University on Oct. 19 -- Billingham didn't make it, by the way, and Anderson made it clear the next day that was no big deal -- and they did it again on Monday, Oct. 20. The Red Sox, meanwhile, took the day off on Sunday and held a light workout under the center field stands at Fenway Park. Monday's postponement averted a head-to-head-to-head matchup on TV with "Monday Night Football" and "All in the Family." One possible area the three-day hiatus might have helped the Red Sox was in getting Tiant and right fielder Dwight Evans healthy. Both had picked up a virus when the Series was in Cincinnati. "But should we lose, neither the chest colds nor the weather nor the delays will be an excuse," Evans declared. In the end, Tiant was good but not great in his Game 6 start, and was headed toward the loss before Bernie Carbo's three-run pinch-homer with two outs in the eighth. Nolan gave up a three-run homer to Fred Lynn in the first and pitched a perfect second before Anderson went with Norman -- the second of what would be eight pitchers "Captain Hook" called upon that night. And Evans made an amazing catch over the right-field fence in the 11th inning to rob Joe Morgan, showing no excuses were necessary. But what everybody really remembers is Pudge hopping down the first-base line, pushing that home run fair, watching it bounce off the foul pole above the Green Monster. Hardly anybody remembers it took three days and a lot of rain to even get to that long night at Fenway.
John Schlegel is Executive Editor for the West Divisions for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.