A Weather-Related Malfunction/Communication Breakdown Leads To Game 5 2/3
- Rays 2-Phillies 2 (Suspended Mid-6):
Commissioner Bud Selig was absolutely, positively, completely, 1,000,000% right to say that he wouldn’t allow a World Series to end on a game shortened by the weather. I doubt that even the most misanthropic, ignorant, abusive, desperate, stupid, mustard-throwing, neanderthal Phillies fan would want a championship that way for no other reason than it would be easy to dismiss it as having been handed to them rather than won on the field. I was screaming at Joe Buck as to what an idiot he is when he and Tim McCarver were talking about how the game and series would’ve ended with a Phillies win had the game been called before the Rays tied the score, but according to the rulebook, they were right. Even with the right call that was made, did the fact that the game wasn’t going to be called in favor of the Phillies under any circumstances without a completed game get to the umpiring crew?
The rain didn’t appear to be falling with anymore intensity in the sixth inning than it had in the prior three innings, so why did they wait to halt the game until the Rays tied the score? If the stories that say Selig told the umpiring crew that the game wasn’t going to be called to either team no matter what happened are true, why didn’t they just put the tarp on the field earlier?
I can tell you from experience in having worked outside in that type of rain that it’s in many ways worse than a driving rainstorm in which it seems like there are buckets of water being dumped onto one’s head; the type of rain last night was of the steady, ice-cold variety that not only gets you soaked before you know it, but it’s that type of weather that gets people sick. The field was clearly unplayable before the Rays tied the score and there wasn’t much difference in the circumstances from when it was 2-1 Phillies, until it was 2-2; so why didn’t they suspend it earlier if the commissioner of baseball said they weren’t going to just award the game to either team? They can deny it all they want, but it looked like the umpires were waiting for the Rays to tie the score and then suspend it so there wouldn’t be any implication of bended rules; but that’s the commissioner’s prerogative; and no one would’ve argued that he was changing the rules to favor anyone because no one wants to win that way. The game should’ve been suspended earlier, no matter the score.
- Now come the strategic decisions:
The game is now going to come down to a three inning affair to see if the Phillies are going to be the world champions or there’s going to be a game six in Tampa, and this is where we’ll see if which manager makes the smart decision and which manager makes the stupid decision.
Before Joe Maddon came into the interview room, I thought it was clear that James Shields should be sent out to the mound to start the bottom of the sixth inning on Tuesday night(?); predictably, Maddon said he wasn’t going to do that and that Grant Balfour was still technically in the game as the pitcher. With most managers, I’d say there was absolutely no chance that Balfour would essentially be sent out there as a starting pitcher for Game 5 2/3; with Maddon, I don’t know. The Rays have three options: they can use the bullpen as if it’s a continuation of the game from the sixth inning onward; they can use Shields; or they can send David Price out there and have him treat the game as a start. Of the three, the best option is to use Price.
Using the lefty Price not only makes sense since he’s a starting pitcher, but because he’s better suited to deal with the Phillies lineup and bench. Carlos Ruiz made the last out of the fifth inning for the Phillies and pitcher Cole Hamels is scheduled to lead off the bottom of the sixth; if Maddon uses one of his righties, the Phillies have Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs to hit for Hamels; if he uses Price, they don’t have much of a selection other than Chris Coste, who looked awful in his game one start as DH. After that, the Phillies are two batters away from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. I would not want to use my bullpen righties against those guys when one run might end the game and series. Price is the only option.
Charlie Manuel has a similar decision to make. He could use Brett Myers to start the seventh inning, which wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory for Myers no matter how he reconciles the situation mentally. He’s been a starter all year and he could look at the game as as start; or since he closed last year, he could look at it as a relief appearance. Manuel could also play for one run in the bottom of the sixth and go with Ryan Madson to pitch the seventh and eighth and then to Brad Lidge in the ninth. (That’s my preference.) He could also have both Myers and Madson warming up and if the game’s tied use Myers and if they get a lead, go with Madson.
I’m not even going to speculate what either side is going to do because if I crawl too deeply into their cavernous heads, rife with trapdoors and creepy goings-on and bottomless pits, I might disappear, never to be heard from again other than as a replacement for that strange voice that tells Maddon or Manuel to do things that don’t make sense. Actually, both might be better off if that were the case, although I probably wouldn’t.