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Does anybody here know how to play this game?

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Bizarre situation in Philadelphia, where the fifth game of the World Series has been suspended after six innings and the game tied (it will resume tomorrow night). Apparently the ownership of both clubs agreed with the commissioner’s office that no game would be less than nine innings. This is a basic modification of the rules of the game, which consider any game official after five innings. The really bizarre part is that it doesn’t appear the managers or the players were aware of this agreement until it was just enforced. This is pretty amazing, given that all kinds of tactical decisions turn on whether a game can be called after less than nine innings.

On the other hand, the regular rule for inclement weather is one that makes no sense in the context of a potentially championship-deciding game. So I can see the argument for making an ad hoc modification in the official rules. But it would be nice if they had told the people actually playing the game what the rules were.

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  • Richard Hershberger

    I am unaware of any such gentleman’s agreement between the owners, but it may not be widely known that the rules for suspended games were modified recently. Formerly, under the circumstances of this game it would have been a Phillies win, since the sixth inning was not completed. Had the bottom of the sixth been completed with no additional scoring, the game would have been a tie and replayed from the start.
    The new rules strongly favor suspending games and completing them later. Since the Rays tied the game in their half of the innings, the game is suspended. Similarly, it would be suspended had the inning ended up tied.
    If they had stopped play after the end of the fifth inning, then any such gentleman’s agreement would apply. But as it is, this actually folllows the rules.
    To me, the interesting question is what if they can’t get the rest of the game in on Tuesday. The forecast is for rain. My guess is they would suspend it further, completing it if necessary after game 7. How would this game go down in the record books if it does not have to be completed? As a tie, I suppose. Ties are rare in baseball (the All-Star game notwithstanding), but it is a legitimate conclusion.

  • Scott de B.

    Not sure what the problem is, there have been tied World Series games before.

  • John

    after 5.5, not 6.
    Scott, what are the previous tied world series games?
    Richard, completing if necessary after game 7? Really? They wouldn’t complete it in Philly on Wednesday, and then go back to Tampa Bay if necessary?

  • Scott, what are the previous tied world series games?

    I’m not Scott but there have been three games that were ties due to darkness, all pre-war. Might have actually all be pre-World War I, although I’m thinking one at least was in the twenties.

  • Google says 1907, 1912, 1922. Damn, I’m good.

  • after 5.5, not 6
    And presumably the owners decided on a game that is no less than 8 1/2, not 9, innings. Unless they are counting on the ad revenue from the monumentally stupid.

  • Don’t the umpires have discretion not to call a game, regardless of score? ISTR that the Braves were once leading by 6 runs in the 8th inning, but their opponents had already scored 2 in that inning and had runners on. They chose to suspend it and play the rest the next day.
    The plan is to play the rest of the game “either on Tuesday or Wednesday”. So I think the plan is to play it on the next day of good weather, prior to the regularly scheduled game for that day.

  • I think the umps did a good job, calling the game after the tying run. Sensible use of discretion, as was the gentleman’s agreement…

  • It seemed to me like they were waiting for the Rays to tie the score before they called the game, so that the Phillies wouldn’t win the series in a rain out.
    Which, I think, is BS.

  • If the ownership is aware of the gentleman’s agreement, and managers and players aren’t, that’s on the ownership rather than MLB, right?

  • Isn’t this just, as noted by the first commenter, the rule that has been in place all this year? You’ll note that almost no games this year ended early- almost all were completed. It was a program put in place before the season and was written about on ESPN- that’s where I learned about it. I assume it’s just the same rule.

  • bill

    Assuming they can’t play tonight in Philly, why not just finish the game in Tampa, where they’re supposed to be going tomorrow anyway?

  • Dungheap

    They never should have started the game in the first place.

  • BTL

    The sixth inning should never had started now you have tampa gettin a cheap run on a field that was under water. Once again baseball under Bud Selig has fallin flat on its face.

  • Ian

    Really, how much would the risk of injury go up if they just played in the rain?
    Defense would start looking pretty shoddy, but the base runners would be slowed up as well. Lot’s of screwballs, as the pitcher’s would have to rub the ball dry. They play football in snow, and it makes the game more interesting — why not baseball in the rain? (other than 100 years of tradition, but they’re already ignoring that)

  • They play football in snow, and it makes the game more interesting
    But too much mud is just ridiculous.

  • John

    Assuming they can’t play tonight in Philly, why not just finish the game in Tampa, where they’re supposed to be going tomorrow anyway?
    Umm…because the Phillies have the right to three games at home?

  • Hanspeter

    Had they declared the Filthies the winner, imagine the possible taunts for centuries to come that they only won 3 1/2 games in the 2008 series.

  • mpowell


    Defense would start looking pretty shoddy, but the base runners would be slowed up as well. Lot’s of screwballs, as the pitcher’s would have to rub the ball dry. They play football in snow, and it makes the game more interesting — why not baseball in the rain? (other than 100 years of tradition, but they’re already ignoring that)

    I think playing football in the mud and snow is really stupid. A lot of fans like it, but it is fundamentally not the same game. The same applies to baseball, it just appears that baseball people have more respect for their own game. Football people, though, kind of don’t like the way football is currently played. It’s a weird dynamic.

  • Well, surely a big part of the difference between baseball and football is that it takes a week to recover from a football game, which makes rescheduling one an enormous pain.

  • Hanspeter

    mpowell: is dry, no wind, sunny baseball (or football) the only real baseball (or football) then? To paraphrase a certain Defense Secretary:
    “You play with the weather you have, not the weather you’d like to have.”
    As long as it isn’t inherently dangerous (lightning, baseball sized hail, gnat infestation in the infield, etc), why shouldn’t a game continue in less than perfect weather? Is it no longer baseball when the sun is coming from behind home plate and making fly catches in the outfield more difficult? Or if it’s really humid and making the ball deader? It’s no longer the same game if you can’t count on your HR king or your prime base stealer because he’s at high altitude now? Yet it all still is allowed. It changes the coaches strategy and tactics, but in the end it’s still the same game: get more people around the four bases than the other team. Different conditions – same game.
    Heavy downpour also changes the parameters, but the equation is still the same. I don’t know if last nights suspension was by-the-rules. I’m just saying that calling games played in less than comfortable weather (comfortable != perfect either) not the same as ‘real’ *ball is ludicrous. Might as well put everyone in the same dome and be done w/ it then.
    ps. why does the blockquote tag on haloscan suck so much?

  • bayville

    The game should have never been started. Period.
    Despite what Commissioner Bubbleheaded Bud said, just about “every” weather report in the Delaware Valley called for rain in Philly – beginning as early as 6 p.m. and by atleast 9 p.m. And the reports, along with the radars ,reported the rain would continue for 36-48 hours.
    Hey, it’s Wednesday, noon and its still raining hard.
    The fifth and sixth inning should never have taken place. Baseball should not be played with mud & sawdust covering the infield and in 40 mph.
    BTW the umpires in this series have been below American Legion League levels.

  • “gnat infestation in the infield” s/b “plague of insects summoned by God’s righteous wrath against the Yankees”

  • King Rat

    To answer Hanspeter’s question, the reason they call baseball games because of rain is because it is “inherently dangerous” to play in the rain, if you’re a pitcher. Pitching is an inherently violent and unnatural motion as it is-now do it on a slippery and unstable mound. The notion that just because they play football in ridiculous conditions they should suck it up and play ball in baseball is absurd, not least because baseball is a sport where guys don’t get injured at anything like the rate they do in football.

  • Gnats aren’t dangerous, and Carmona had no problem concentrating while his face was covered in bugs. Yankee fans can and will complain about that one forever, but no sympathy. Matt’s right.

  • mpowell


    As long as it isn’t inherently dangerous (lightning, baseball sized hail, gnat infestation in the infield, etc), why shouldn’t a game continue in less than perfect weather? Is it no longer baseball when the sun is coming from behind home plate and making fly catches in the outfield more difficult? Or if it’s really humid and making the ball deader? It’s no longer the same game if you can’t count on your HR king or your prime base stealer because he’s at high altitude now? Yet it all still is allowed. It changes the coaches strategy and tactics, but in the end it’s still the same game: get more people around the four bases than the other team. Different conditions – same game.
    Heavy downpour also changes the parameters, but the equation is still the same. I don’t know if last nights suspension was by-the-rules. I’m just saying that calling games played in less than comfortable weather (comfortable != perfect either) not the same as ‘real’ *ball is ludicrous. Might as well put everyone in the same dome and be done w/ it then.

    This is simply not true. There is no clear dividing line between a change in the ‘parameters’ and a change in the ‘equation’. If I make the basepaths 45 feet is that just a change in the ‘parameters’? Or is a change in the ‘equation’. What if I want the mound to be 4 feet high? There are reasons why some things are allowed to be flexible and others not. Ultimately, it is a question of judgement, but I don’t think it’s very hard to see that some changes have a far more profound impact on the nature of the game than others. Outfield dimensions and altitude have a slight impact. Pouring rain and situations where the integrity of the mound and batter’s box are compromised fundamentally and substantially alter the balance between the hitter and the pitcher. And in my view, that’s the most important element in what makes the game baseball.
    The same kind of discussion applies to football as well. Playing in the snow significantly alters what kinds of offensive plays are effective. Yet the NFL has detailed rules attempting to create a particular balance they regard as desirable or appropriate. But that gets thrown out in a super important snow game? Since it’s in the rules you can’t argue that it’s unfair, but you can still argue that it’s silly.

  • spence-bob

    Assuming they can’t play tonight in Philly, why not just finish the game in Tampa, where they’re supposed to be going tomorrow anyway?
    Also because there is no major league baseball team based in Tampa.

  • MSS

    Nicholas, no, the umpires do not have discretion on whether to call or suspend a game, once they have determined that weather prevents continued play.
    In the case you describe, because an inning had been partially played, the game had to be suspended. (You do not say whether the trailing team that had narrowed its run deficit was home or road.)
    See MLB rules 4.10 – 4.12.

  • Ian

    OK, rainball is too dangerous and or ridiculous (Matt Weiner, you have filled my heart with joy). But this…
    The really bizarre part is that it doesn’t appear the managers or the players were aware of this agreement until it was just enforced.
    There’s only one word for that, and that word is Calvinball. That’s not a bad thing. If third base occasionally became a bag flag zone I would watch baseball much more frequently.

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