If Yankees were in Devil Rays' shoes ...

Updated: September 7, 2004, 4:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' push Monday for a forfeit victory over the Devil Rays has landed them squarely in the eye of Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella.

Because of travel problems due to Hurricane Frances, the Devil Rays arrived three hours late for the rescheduled 3 p.m. ET opener of a doubleheader Monday at Yankee Stadium. Tampa Bay lost the game that was played 7-4. Afterward, Piniella was angry that the Yankees asked the commissioner's office to declare the other game a forfeit victory for them.

Commissioner Bud Selig has no intention of ordering a forfeit.

"If it'd been reversed, and that hurricane would have been here in the New York area as opposed to the Tampa area, the Yankees should have stayed at home and forgotten about the ballgame in Tampa. Period," Piniella told reporters.

"Let me tell you this: I think when you look at baseball, it's important," Piniella continued. "Your family is doubly important or triply important and when a hurricane is beating down on the Florida coast, 160, 70, 80 miles from your hometown, I think you take care of your family first and you worry about the ballgame second.

"I know the Yankees are in a pennant race, but I also know that our kids are young and have a lot of young kids at home. There was flooding, there are a lot of things that occurred over a two-day period in Florida, and I think everybody was more comfortable being with their family than being in New York sitting in a hotel waiting to play a baseball game."

Devil Rays designated hitter Aubrey Huff didn't make the trip; his house was so flooded, according to one report, that he couldn't get out of it despite offers from police to escort him to the airport so he could join his teammates.

General manager Chuck LaMar said the team never intended to leave for New York until Sunday night or Monday. The team endured travel delays Monday of up to 10 hours before landing in New York.

"We decided, and we made the right decision, we'll stick by that decision, to stay with our families," he said. "We wanted to stay in the Tampa Bay area, wait out the storm with our families."

The Yankees reported to Yankee Stadium at noon for the doubleheader. Tampa Bay players arrived for the 7:05 p.m. start at 6:05, suited up, and lost their eighth straight.

Before the game, Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman held a news conference on the field, explaining why they wanted a forfeit. Baseball rules say a forfeit may be called if a team isn't ready within five minutes of umpires calling "play" unless the delay is "unavoidable."

"The rule states that if your team is here and ready to play, and the other team isn't here and not ready to play, there should be a forfeit, and we believe there should be a forfeit," Levine said.

The teams also are scheduled to play night games Wednesday and Thursday. Levine said that if the forfeit request was denied, it should be rescheduled to be played on Oct. 4, the day after the regular season, if it's needed to decide a postseason race. He also said that the Yankees may refuse to reschedule the game for this week, even if ordered to.

"Given the stage of the season we are in, and the exciting pennant races, it is critical that we do everything to decide the championship on the field," Selig said in a statement.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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