Rain and New York Yankees postseason baseball.
It goes together like milk and honey, love and marriage, Babe Ruth and a certain 86-year Bambino's curse.
The Yankees have a habit of getting to the postseason. That team from the Bronx has a habit of playing in World Series games. Heck, they have a habit of winning World Series championships, 27 of them so far.
Yet the Yankees play in New York, and New York—like Boston, Philadelphia, and the other northeast cities—experiences a true change of seasons come late September, into October, and especially by November.
Major League Baseball, sensing something just might be afoot, strategically moved the 2011 schedule up by half a week. This ensured that the postseason would begin at the very end of September and would not go into that month of turkey and cranberry sauce.
Yet what MLB didn't count on was the strong link between rain and New York Yankees postseason baseball. The Yankees have always had a storied postseason history, and yes, that includes a history full of precipitation.
Here are the five most recent Yankees playoff appearances that were affected by rain.
October: Jacket weather in Beantown
October 15, 2004: Game Three of the 2004 American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is postponed. Scheduled as the first 2004 ALCS contest to be played at Fenway Park in Massachusetts, the forecast for Friday, October 15, 2004, looked so ominous that league officials were adamant about postponing the game.
The unexpected day off allowed both the Yankees and Red Sox to recharge, regroup, and reload.
Scoring three runs to lead off the top of the first inning when the game was played on Saturday, October 16, the Yankees were stunned as Boston came roaring back with four of their own in the bottom of the second. The back and forth dialogue continued until the fourth inning, when the Yankees broke the game open with five runs, powered by a three-run Monster shot by Gary Sheffield.
When all was said and done, the Yankees had scored 19 runs on 22 hits, while Boston produced an impressive eight runs and 15 hits of their own.
All for naught, the Yankees would enjoy no further victories, as the Red Sox stunned the sports world by winning the next four games to win the 2004 ALCS, four games to three.
And, yes, as we all know, the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, four games to none over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Perhaps the Red Sox can thank Mother Nature, in part, for helping to break the Curse of the Bambino.
Rain indirectly helped the Yankees win Game 4 of the 2005 ALDS
October 8, 2005: Game 4 of the Yankees-Angels American League Division Series is washed out on Saturday and postponed to the following day. Though the Yankees request an earlier, afternoon start on Sunday, citing the cross-country flight to Anaheim Sunday night for a Monday game, MLB denies the Yanks.
Instead, the league acquiesces to TV rights-holder FOX's request to schedule the LAA-NYY for a standard evening start, so Sunday's FOX Football schedule can continue uninterrupted.
Though the Yankees seemed more upset than the Angels at MLB's decision to play a late game, it was the Angels who were hurt by the rainout.
Angels Manager Mike Scioscia gambled with pitcher John Lackey, operating on only three days' rest, while the Yankees pitched newcomer Shaun Chacon. The Yankees couldn't be happier with Chacon, who went into the seventh inning and allowed only two runs.
Though Lackey allowed only one run in 5.2 IP, reliever Scott Shields picked up the blown save and loss, allowing two runs during a Yankees seventh inning rally. Future Hall of Famer and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera pitched two shutout innings to pick up the save and the win.
The Angels would ultimately win the ALDS, three games to two.
The Yankee Stadium grounds crew took center stage during the extended pre-game (game not included)
October 4, 2006: Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees was scheduled to begin at around seven o'clock Wednesday evening... it never did.
With nary a drop of rain, the Tigers and Yankees took turns at batting practice, Yankee Stadium went through its lavish pre-game ceremonies, Gary Sheffield's wife sung The Star Spangled Banner and Paul O'Neill threw out the first pitch.
Then the grounds crew came out and put a tarp on the field. A light drizzle came down from the heavens, but that was all. The public address system announced a new scheduled start time of 9:30 PM. Not bad.
The tarp was removed, but only briefly. 9:30 came and went, and shortly before 10:00 PM, the tarp was returned to the field.
The postponed game kicked off without incident the next day at one in the afternoon. The Tigers used four single run innings and some dominant pitching to take Game 2 by a final of 4-3. The Tigers ultimately won the American League Division Series, three games to one.
The Yankees created their own rainstorm after clinching the AL Championship in 2009
October 17, 2009: A 13-inning nail biter slips away from the Angels' grasp as Los Angeles cannot overcome that darn New York weather in their losing effort. Two key errors proved costly for the California team, as weather got the best of the Angels at the end of a five hour, ten minute battle, the longest in ALCS history.
Angels shortstop Maicer Izturis threw a routine ball away in the 13th inning, which prompted the Yankees' Jerry Hairston, Jr. to try and score on the error. Chone Figgins, dutifully backing up the play, attempted to recover the loose ball and throw Hairston, Jr. out at the plate, but the wet ball slipped from Figgins' grip, securing a victory for the Yanks.
October 24, 2009: Heavy rain moves into New York, forcing the cancellation of the evening's scheduled Angels-Yankees game. The game was postponed until Sunday, October 25, at 8:20 PM (ET).
Pitching on an additional day's rest thanks to the postponement, Yankees star Andy Pettitte allowed one run over 6.1 innings of work in Game 6, while striking out six. Once again, sandman Mariano Rivera pitched brilliantly for a six-out save.
The Angels had made two more errors in Game 6, bringing their total error count to eight over the course of the series. Playing out of their element, the Angels committed seven errors over the course of three games at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees won the 2009 ALCS, four games to two.
In DET & NYY Battle the Elements Part II, the game started, only to stop less than two innings in
September 30, 2011: MLB's plan to move the playoffs into late September backfired as the Yankees and Tigers were rained out Friday night in New York.
With aces Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia on the mound for the Tigers and Yankees, respectively, Friday night was shaping up to be an instant classic.
Sabathia quickly gave up a first inning home run to the Tigers' Delmon Young, but Verlander gave that run right back in the bottom of the frame. In typical Verlander fashion, of course, it was a strikeout that did the damage. Derek Jeter was badly fooled on a two-strike Verlander slider for strike three, but the ball got away from catcher Alex Avila, allowing Jeter to take first. He later came around to score on an Alex Rodriguez ground out.
At the end of the Tigers' second, the rain was coming down hard and the umpires called for the tarp. About an hour later, the game was officially called.
Thanks to a new rule which governs postseason games, the weather shortened Game 1 of the 2011 DET-NYY ALDS was suspended, not postponed or cancelled. Accordingly, MLB called for play to resume in less than 24 hours, on Saturday, at 8:30 PM ET.
The Yankees will be coming up to bat in the bottom of the second, and Tigers ace Justin Verlander's postseason ERA will still be 9.00.