Around the fourth inning, the rain started to fall on Citizens Bank Park. With the Phillies leading 2-1, I immediately thought to myself, "This game could end in a rain delay if they let the Rays bat in the top of the fifth and the Phillies could win the World Series in a 4 1/2 inning game." Of all of the embarrassing things that Bud Selig has done in his time as commissioner of Major League Baseball, ending the World Series in a shortened game would've been the trump card.
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Of course, Selig now claims that if it came down to it, he could've acted to call an extended "rain delay" and resumed the game on Tuesday night, no matter what the score of the game or what the actual rulebook says. That would obviously be the right thing to do in a 2-1 game after five innings given the situation, so why, exactly, did these two teams play through a freezing downpour for an inning and a half, only to have the game almost immediately suspended at the first point that the rulebook allowed for it.
Sure, the Rays tied the game. But they only did it after B.J. Upton reached when Jimmy Rollins flubbed a very fieldable grounder, then ran around the basepaths to score the tying run while the Phillies attempted to throw him out with an incredibly slippery baseball. If Selig and the baseball officials had the power to suspend the game until tomorrow, even though the rules don't technically allow for it, and they were meaning to do it, why hadn't it been done at that point? With all due respect to the Rays, the tying run in this game was scored by the weather, not them.
When, exactly, were you planning on acting, Bud? After Evan Longoria shredded his ACL sliding in the mud? After Cole Hamels destroyed his arm trying to throw a slippery baseball in the freezing weather? After one team rallied for 12 runs because the field was such a disaster that playing defense was no longer tenable?
Selig can claim that he would've suspended the game no matter what the score, but all we have is the empirical evidence that he didn't. The game was officially suspended at the only point that it's allowed for in the MLB rulebook thanks to a rule change that was made prior to last season. Essentially, Selig's claim boils down this:
"I had the means to suspend the game until tomorrow and allow for Game 5 to be played to its completion, but instead I chose to let the Phillies and Rays muck around in the mud for an inning and a half for my own amusement while the entire country believed the game could be called and the Philles could've won the World Series in a rain-shortened debacle -- much to the embarrassment of my sport. Then when the Rays tied the game up and I no longer had to make any tough decisions or assert myself in any way, I chose to call the game as dictated by the rulebook. I am the biggest wuss in the history of life, the universe, and everything."Maybe Selig really did discuss the options with the Rays and Phillies before the game. Maybe he really did have the power to go around the rules and suspend a game that wasn't tied. But the fact is he didn't, and he allowed the most important game of the season, to this point, to press on in conditions that were unfit for baseball.
He can say what he likes about what he would or wouldn't have done had the Rays not tied the game up, but it certainly seemed to me that the Rays scoring provided an easy out for him and prevented the debacle that he allowed to to take place in the first place from going on any longer.