What transpired tonight in Detroit was absurd. With a line of showers closer to Indiana than Detroit at the 8:00 p.m. ET starting game time, Major League Baseball inexplicably delayed the start of the fourth game of the ALCS. Finally, at 9:25, with light rain still 30 minutes away, MLB postponed the game.
This is an outrage on so many levels and rivals the idiocy of the 2002 all-star game that ended in a tie. Had the rain been minutes away from Comerica Park – truly close to meteorological inevitability – the delay would have been a bit more understandable. But it was far enough away that: 1) a good chunk of the game could have been completed, and 2) the precipitation could have dried up or circled around Detroit.
Unlike the situation in St. Louis, the precipitation heading to Detroit was merely steady rain, hardly the stormy weather that produced a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the St. Louis area. It’s quite possible the game’s final innings could have been played before conditions worsened to the point where a legitimate delay may have been warranted. There was also a remote possibility that the entire game could have completed before the first drops of rain came down.
Just as it’s been since Abner Doubleday invented the game, October baseball is fraught with weather issues. It’s likely to be chilly, windy and rainy. It happens. And it’s been happening for a hundred years.
To its credit, MLB recently changed the rules regarding rain delays in the playoffs to ensure that no game would ever end without going its full length. The fact that this rule exists makes the decision to delay and then cancel a game nearly two hours before the onset of rain even more unconscionable.
To be sure, there are two interests that baseball is protecting. One it will admit and one it won’t. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that starting pitchers may not have been able to resume the game after a long delay. (We’ll let the babying of baseball pitchers be another topic for another day.) But, so what. That’s part of the game. Perhaps a weather-savvy manager might even be bold enough to hold out a starting pitcher in expectation of inevitable rain.
The second reason is – this just in – MLB wants to keep New York on the baseball radar for as long as possible. Had the team’s ace, CC Sabathia, been forced to come out of the game after a delay, it would have hurt the Yankees already slim chances of winning the series. The postponement effectively keeps general interest in the Yankees team for one more day.
P.S. A whopping .04" of rain fell during what would have been the third full hour of the game.