Bud Selig Dropped the Ball: Blame It on the Rain
If there had been an announcement after the rainy fourth game of the 2008 World Series, it might have read like this:
"Due to the promise of continued rainy weather in Philadelphia, MLB has decided to inform all parties that no World Series games will be decided in less than nine innings. Inclement weather resulting in a mid-game suspension will result in a continuation of that game on the next available day that weather permits."
There was no such announcement.
If a decision had been made behind closed doors, and only the teams and umpires had been informed, last night's open swim at Citizens' Bank Park in Philadelphia would have ended around the fourth inning.
We can rule that scenario out, too.
What actually happened was much sloppier than the infield. Imagine MLB commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig sitting in his luxury box. His stomach begins to tighten as he watches the Phillies take the lead in the top of the first. As the game continues and the rain falls, Selig begins to pop antacid tablets.
The Rays score a run, but the Phils still lead, 2-1. Selig takes more antacids and asks if anyone has aspirin.
The grounds crew runs out at every possible opportunity, while the home plate umpire begins flipping a coin to decide between balls and strikes. Selig releases a sigh of relief, realizing these ridiculous calls won't be on him tomorrow.
The rain continues to fall.
People in the box with Selig begin to look at him expectantly. It's a deluge. Upton just hydroplaned into second on a steal. What's next? An RBI single from Pena ties the game at two.
Selig begins to pray, "Please [fill in deity of your personal choice], let it remain tied."
Top of the sixth ends in a tie, and Selig is off the hook.
After the sixth, everybody convenes, the game is postponed, and Selig begins his version of the lone-gunman theory, telling everyone that the plan all along was never ending a World Series game early due to weather, regardless of the score or inning.
Selig has never given baseball fans the impression that he's the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but if he honestly believes anyone is buying this story, he may be thicker than most envisioned.
Had the decision he spoke of after the fact actually been in place ahead of time, the game could have been suspended at the end of any previous inning.
Instead, Bud needed the game to be tied to justify the circumvention of the rule book and prevent bedlam. Had he postponed the game with the Phillies leading, chaos would have ensued among their fans.
History shows that Philadelphia is not the place to anger fans. Just ask Santa.
This is not the first time Selig has re-written rules on the fly. The All-Star Game ended in a tie for the first and only time in 2002 after a winner was not decided after 11 innings.
The rule book states that a game is official if five full innings are completed if the visitor is leading, or four-and-a-half innings are completed and the home team is leading. Based on the rules, if Selig had ended the game before Upton was driven in by Pena, the Phillies would be the 2008 World Series champs.
Should he have done that? Absolutely not. No game of that importance should be ended in such a way. Selig should have planned ahead. He should have made a plan to deviate from the rule book, and he should have made that plan known to all before the game.
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