Selig Makes Correct Call In Suspending Game; Season Needs To Be Shortened

Adam FierCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2008

For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, a World Series was suspended, as Game Five between the Phillies and Rays, tied at two in the middle of the sixth inning, was put on hold.

Mother Nature decided that Philadelphia would have to put it's celebration on hold for at least another night, as the Phillies were primed to hoist the first championship trophy for that city that's waited 25 years to do so (the longest for any city with professional teams in all four major sports.)

There is plenty of controversy surrounding the decision, however unlike in 2002 when he ruled to call the All Star Game in a tie, commissioner Bud Selig did all he could do in determining the game last night needed to be stopped.

The rain lingered throughout most of the night, causing field conditions hardly appropriate for a baseball game of such magnitude.  Fox's Joe Buck and Tim McCarver made reference a number of times to the fact that the weather was negating the Rays' ability to use their speed, something which had propelled them to the World Series in the first place.

Ironically, in the final inning played last night, it was B.J. Upton stealing a base and scoring from second on a base hit to left off the bat of Carlos Pena. 

The controversy really centers around what knowledge the players had throughout the night, as to whether or not the game would have ever been called following the fifth inning, at which point the Phillies were ahead 2-1.

It was only after the Rays tied the game in the top of the sixth that the game was suspended, despite the fact it didn't appear as though the rain was any worse at that point than it was an inning before.

After the game had been suspended, Selig came out and stated that at no point was there any inclination to call the game and decide a World Series in fewer than nine innings.  The point was made that both clubs were fully aware of this throughout the night, however whether or not the players themselves knew seems to be open for debate.

Lifeless for most of the first six innings, the Rays offense showed life in the top of the sixth, rallying to the game in what would turn out to be the final half inning of baseball played last night.

For a guy who has taken a lot of grief throughout his term as commissioner, last night Selig was right on the money in his decision making.

The game needed to be started and played as long as it could have been, and getting through five and a half innings was quite an accomplishment considering the infield was below sea level by nights end.

The bottom line is there was no way to end a World Series game before at least nine innings were played, especially if a champion was crowned in the process.

The bigger problem in my mind?

The baseball season is too long.  Plain and simple.  162 games is too many, as the season begins and ends in weather that just isn't appropriate for Major League Baseball.

The discussion of shrinking the season would likely end before it began, as the loss of revenue wouldn't be worth any advantages the players would gain.

But if given the chance to play commissioner, I would shorten the season by thirty games, eliminate two-game series' and make sure the season started in the middle of April and ended before the first of October.  For what it's worth, teams building new stadiums should also be mandated to have retractable roofs, but for obvious financial reasons that's also unrealistic.

However anybody who follows baseball as closely as I do knows those are unrealistic changes, not to mention the fact that it's always possible for a night of torrential rain, regardless of the time of year.

There probably isn't any clear cut way to avoid situations like last night, and the result is an otherwise boring World Series (for anybody not living in Philly or Florida) just got interesting.

The decision to suspend last night's game wasn't easy, but may very well end up sending it back to to Tropicana Field, where Selig won't have to worry about making any more questionable decisions.

Now, about those umpires...