10/28/08 3:59 PM EST
Both teams agree right call is made
Phillies adamant they don't want to win title via shortened game
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
Monday's contest between the Phillies and the Rays, however, was no normal game. This was Game 5 of the World Series and possibly a championship clincher for the Phillies. Had the teams not been tied when the rain became unbearable in the middle of the sixth inning, this game would have been postponed for however long it took for the rain to pass. Instead, it was suspended, the first in-game suspension in the history of the World Series.
One day, two days, three days ... Commissioner Bud Selig conveyed in no uncertain terms that the World Series would not have been determined by a rain rule, even if, by definition, the game was official.
"The game would have been in a rain delay until weather conditions allowed us to continue," Selig said. "And that might have been 24 hours or 48 hours or who knows."
The Rays made it easy for the powers that be to call the game without any additional controversy. Carlos Pena singled home B.J. Upton minutes before play was suspended, tying the game at 2. But it was raining just as hard when the Phillies were ahead, 2-1, and for a while, some of the Phillies thought if the game was called and couldn't be resumed that night, that they would win the World Series.
No chance, said Selig.
"I guess putting everything else aside, it's my judgment," he said. "I have to use my judgment. It's not a way to end a World Series. And I think there's enough, and I have enough authority here, frankly, so that I think that I'm not only on solid ground, I'm on very solid ground.
"I would not have allowed the World Series to end this way."
GAME 5 SUSPENSION
|Commissioner Selig cited rule 4.12(a)(6) in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, enacted for the 2007 season, any official game halted with the score tied "shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date."
In this scenario, rule 4.12(c) for suspended games is enacted: "A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."
Prior to 1980, a game called due to inclement weather would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading, 2-1, since Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. In 1980, the "reverting back" was discontinued and the game was henceforth declared a suspended game. Rule 4.12(a)(6) was added after the 2006 season so that any game suspended after becoming official would be declared a suspended game. Therefore, Game 5 will resume with the score tied at 2.
Both sides agreed with the Commissioner, even the Phillies, who are itching to clinch the championship in front of their hometown fans.
"I truly believe that would have been the worst World Series win on the face of baseball," Phillies starter Cole Hamels said. "I would not pride myself on being a world champion with a called game."
Phillies outfielder Matt Stairs concurred.
"They wouldn't have canceled the game," he said. "There's no way they're going to allow a championship game to be canceled in the [sixth] inning on a rainout. Bud Selig said we'd sit here for two or three days to see who won. To win a championship, you want to play nine innings and win it that way. It's another night for the fans to come back and support the team."
The Rays, desperately trying to stay alive after digging themselves into a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series, couldn't imagine a worse scenario than to lose a World Series due to inclement weather.
"For us to not get the hit right there, and be standing on the side losing the World Series in that case, would be awful," reliever Trever Miller said. "It would be the most miserable offseason I've ever had, trying to swallow that one."
After the game was halted, Selig cited rule 4.12a, section 6, in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, "a game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date" for a number of reasons, with section 6 specifying "a regulation game that is called with the score tied."
Phillies closer Brad Lidge supported Selig's conviction that the World Series would never be decided on a called game.
"I think that's good," he said. "You can't end the World Series and not play nine innings. I think that's the right call."
The term "ecstatic" is probably a slight exaggeration to describe the Rays' reaction, but from their viewpoint, Monday's outcome was far less disappointing than it was for the Phillies, who are two wins closer than the Rays to the title.
"When the World Series is over, baseball is over," Pena said. "We know it's going to be over pretty soon. But we definitely want to extend it to the last day. That's something all of us in here want to do. So it feels great to know that there's still life. We still have a heartbeat."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.