October 28th, 2008

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The Disgrace of Last Night's Game

At the risk of writing two bitchy posts in a row, I think that MLB should be ashamed of the way last night's game was handled. By the middle of the fifth evening, the game conditions clearly deteriorated far too much for the game to continue. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, MLB leadership let the game continue. No, I take that back -- the reason was obvious: they wanted to give the Rays a chance, every chance, to tie the game so that they could "fairly" call the game at a tie.

Furthermore, I just saw on ESPN a post-game interview in which Selig said that it didn't what the score was, the game was going to be in "rain delay" until the game could be resumed, no matter when that would be. Now, this is a complete crock too because Selig has made up this rule last night on the spot -- there is no previously stated rule that allows this. I understand that you don't want to end a World Series in a rain-shortened game, but there should be previously established rules to handle this. Nonetheless, given Selig's announcement that the game was going to be completed no matter what the score was, MLB should be all the more ashamed of letting the sixth inning start and allowing the Rays to tie the game in conditions that no baseball game should be played.

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A Brief Follow-Up to This Morning's Post

It's just restating what I wrote this morning, but far more eloquently. From today's Baseball Prospectus:

Starting the game was the right idea, as the forecast for the evening was for light rain, up to a quarter-inch, but nothing that would force a postponement. Selig’s position that a World Series game must go the distance is also correct, and frankly, one I admire. The problem is simply the sixth inning, where Cole Hamels was asked to pitch in a storm, in which the Phillies were asked to defend in one, and where the game changed, perhaps irreparably, when there was no chance it would be completed that evening. You can argue that both teams played in the same conditions. On the game-tying hit by Pena, the field conditions affected both Pat Burrell, who couldn’t charge the ball, and B.J. Upton, who rounded third like he was feeling for the mines. Tschida made the case that the situation was fair to all: "It turns out we have pretty identical line scores at the end of the day, and it didn’t seem worse for one team or the other. What’s fair is fair."

That is where things fall apart. Tschida is absolutely wrong about this. What happened last night was completely unfair to the Phillies. The line scores are not identical. The Rays have six numbers next to their name, the Phillies five. The Phillies had to pitch and play defense in the worst of the weather, and the Rays didn’t. That aspect of last night, the timing of the decision to call the game in the context of what Selig said afterwards, is the big mistake.

[snip]

The decision to play the top of the sixth was the worst we’ve seen in a long time, and whether you choose to blame [umpire crew chief] Tschida or Selig, the truth is that both are at fault. Their optimism about the field conditions and their faith in the Phillies’ grounds crew is noble, but misplaced. The timing of their decision favored one participant over the other, and was an advantage that, in retrospect, did not need to be conferred.
 
And that's why I'm still pissed about the way things unfolded last night.