Griffin: MLB takes the easy way out with Game 6 postponement
ST. LOUIS-It was official at approximately 2:14 p.m. ET. Wednesday's Game 6 at Busch Stadium between the Cards and the Texas Rangers had been postponed until Thursday at 8:05 p.m. ET. The problem was the sidewaks were dry at the time.
It was not a popular decision. Out on one of those dry sidewalks, one of the concession workers, a Redd Foxx lookalike in red shirt and Cardinals cap was rallying those around him also heading for work unaware of the news.
"They called the game off and it's not even raining," he ranted as if trying to organize an Occupy Busch Stadium rally. "Trust me the game is cancelled and it's not even raining."
There have been dozens World Series games over the years played in worse conditions, with more threatening weather reports than Game 6 of the 2011 World Series on Wednesday. Trust me. But MLB was looking at the comfort of its players, sponsors and partner networks before it was looking out for its fans.
Baseball was taking the easy way out. For three days they had paid attention to weather reports even while the games were being played in balmy Arlington, Texas. For three days the forecasts were for a 90-percent chance of rain. By noon on Wednesday it was down to a 60-percent chance, but it made no difference. Joe Torre, who has become the commissioner's front man of dicey decisions, admitted that as early as Tuesday, he had warned both managers that there was a good chance the game could be postponed.
"Basically for convenience," Torre said of why they didn't wait until closer to game time. "Because of the forecast there was no reason to wait any longer. And the earlier we can do it the more people can change plans, including the players and managers too."
So what do those changed plans include as the teams are grounded for the second straight day following Tuesday's travel day?
"Moneyball, I'm actually going to see it tonight," Cards skipper Tony LaRussa said. "I think Brad Pitt is a great actor."
This was a backhanded slap at A's GM Billy Beane, the character played by Pitt. Beane was the godfather of the Moneyball concept that lessened the value of traditional scouting. LaRussa like many baseball men of his generation, had a lot of friends that lost jobs and prestige as the sabermetric, stats-oriented, younger generation of GMs took over the game.
"On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years, because it forces some executives, coaches and players to think it is all about getting on base by drawing walks," LaRussa said, straying from the topic du jour.
"You watch your productive hitters in the big leagues and they get a chance to drive in a run, they look for the first good strike and the better the pitching, especially this time of year, you get that first strike that may be the best one you see. So you'd better be ready to swing early. I think most people would agree with that."
It sounds like LaRussa will not be enjoying his viewing of Moneyball.
Cards' right fielder Lance Berkman spoke for a lot of his fellow players when he expressed his feelings on the early postponement.
"I'm not sure whey they cancelled it," Berkman said, standing in front of his locker ready to change back to street clothes. "This is better weather than Game 1 (of this Series). I mean the previous World Series I was in, Game 1 and Game 5 in Chicago the weathers was in the 40s (F.) and was raining. We played through it no problem. I guess I'm going to go and lay on the couch like a big fat pig and watch a movie."
One major factor in this decision to postpone that goes unspoken is when the rule for rainouts was changed in the 2008 World Series between the Philles and the Rays.
The rule is now that whatever portion of a World Series Game is played, it will be picked up on the next available day at the point where it was halted. That is vastly different from the regular season wherein if a game is halted before the end of five innings (or 4-1/2 if the home team is leading) then the game is replayed from the start. If it is an official game after five, then it goes into the books as a completed game.
Commissioner Bud Selig and baseball were confronted with the issue of TV and history at that time, meaning what if a guy did something spectacular in the third inning and the game was rained out in the fourth. It never happened. Or what if a game is rained out in the sixth and it's a clinching game like last night could have been. Is it fair to crown a World Series champ on a shortened game?
So the Commissioner changes the rule -- because he could. Solomon is still sleeping soundly. Now, MLB prefers to take the easy way out. They reason that if they're not going to be able to play all nine innings in the window presented by the weather, why bother starting at all because the next day they have to finish the previous game anyway and push back all other games just as if the first was postponed. It has made them a bit conservative and candya-- in their thought processes.
"If it doesn't rain (tonight), you make the decision on what you knew," Torre said.
There is an advantage now that goes to the Cardinals if the Series goes to Game 7 on Friday. It will allow Chris Carpenter to start for LaRussa on his fourth day and let LaRussa skip the World Series-challenged Kyle Lohse, which is a huge benefit for the Cards. As for the Rangers, they dismissed the suggestion of starting C.J. Wilson on short rest.
LaRussa would not confirm that this was what was going to happen, saying he must focus first on Game 6. Carpenter is the one that went to his manager and said he was ready.
LaRussa allowed himself to loosen up for once, and his humour showed when asked what he saw as the greatest benefit of having a postponement on Wednesday.
"I can't make any mistakes...maybe running a red light."