Rain wreaking havoc on Series

With rain in the forecast through Friday in St. Louis, the World Series currently waits on standby to play Game 4.

Originally Published: October 25, 2006
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

ST. LOUIS -- You know the World Series is in serious meteorological trouble when players sit around the clubhouse all night watching The Weather Channel instead of SportsCenter.

But that's the sad, waterlogged story of the 102nd World Series, where the Tigers and Cardinals spent more time Wednesday studying the Doppler radar than the scouting reports.

"It's sunny and 83 in Miami," Tigers closer Todd Jones reported, after his latest session checking out the local forecast for pretty much the entire planet. "But that doesn't do us a whole lot of good."

Jayson Stark says it could be a long wait until Game 4 of the World Series gets played.

No, it sure doesn't, barring an unforeseen seismological event. Because it definitely wasn't sunny or 83 in St. Louis on Wednesday. It was, in fact, about as opposite of sunny and 83 as weather ever gets.

So rain -- lots and lots of rain -- postponed Game 4 of this World Series. And you'd probably like to know what that means.

Too bad only Al Roker knows for sure.

Theoretically, they'll play Game 4 Thursday at Busch Stadium. But there isn't any sunny-ness or 83-ness scheduled for Thursday night, either. Or for Friday, for that matter.

Outside the Lines
The stormy forecast for the World Series has left uncertainty in the minds of baseball officials as to when the World Series games will be played, and leaves fans questioning whether championship games should be played at neutral, warm weather sites. Today on "Outside the Lines First Report," weather or not, postponing and playing in difficult meteorological conditions. For more, click here.

And beyond that, the forecast is so lousy in Detroit that about all we can tell you for sure is that this World Series will almost certainly be over before the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving. But we can't vouch for the stuffing.

The Cardinals announced after Wednesday's deluge that Jeff Suppan would still be their pitcher for Game 4. But don't ask who's pitching Games 5, 6 or 7, assuming there is ever a field dry enough to play them on.

"Depends what happens in tomorrow's game," Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "If you win, it presents one set of circumstances. If you lose, it presents another set of circumstances."

And if it rains for the next three weeks, it presents yet one more set of circumstances. But we have to admit we stole that line -- from Noah.

Meanwhile, in the Tigers' clubhouse, manager Jim Leyland wasn't a whole lot more effusive about his own pitching plans. But no matter how many ways he was asked, it wasn't encouraging to note how hard he worked to avoid using words like "tomorrow" or "Thursday."

"Jeremy Bonderman will definitely pitch the next game that the Detroit Tigers play in the World Series," Leyland said, six different times, in answers to six variations on the same question.

"You guys can speculate all you want about what happens beyond that, because that's what you guys do," Leyland said. "But all you're going to get from me is that Jeremy Bonderman will pitch the next game the Tigers play, whenever that may be."

"Whenever that be" is one of those expressions TV programmers love just about as much as "got lower ratings than an infomercial." But that's what this World Series has come to now. Consult your local listings.

There's a word, however, that describes the impact of these dark clouds on the Rain Fall Classic. And that word, of course, is ...

Chaos.

Travel chaos. Pitching chaos. Television chaos. Wardrobe chaos. And, very possibly, ratings chaos.

The Tigers were the team tackling travel chaos Wednesday. Leyland reported that there weren't enough rooms available in their St. Louis hotel to house their entire traveling party for another night or two. So the team was hoping at least the players could stay -- even if family members had to make other arrangements.

That, at least, was better than what happened to the Tigers a couple of weeks ago, after their ALDS rainout in New York. After that rainout, their hotel had no room for any of them. So they had to scramble for rooms in less than luxury accommodations -- and wound up using it as a rallying point that turned that series, and their whole postseason, around.

Busch Stadium
Elise Amendola/AP PhotoFans who were at Busch Stadium for Game 4 Wednesday night never saw the tarp come off the field.
But this, Leyland said, "is a different situation, totally. When we went through what we went through in New York, we were playing (every day) up to that point. Going through this one, obviously we already had a week off. And then we had a day off for travel. And now we've got another night off in this thing. So obviously, we're doing more sitting than we are playing."

And all that sitting can be at least as hazardous to a manager's health as to his starting rotation. Asked what he did for three hours Wednesday, while he was waiting for baseball officials to figure out whether they were going to play, Leyland replied: "I smoked about a carton. It was probably one of the worst days of the year -- for my lungs."

While he rummaged through his cigarette supply, though, his players and coaches were rummaging through the equipment supply -- looking for anything that might be able to protect them from the rain and/or cold.

"I'm going with seven layers," said first-base coach Andy Van Slyke. "It's like my seven-layer Mexican dip."

Meanwhile, first baseman Sean Casey strolled around the clubhouse in a T-shirt and shorts -- and was threatening to wear them out onto the field, "just to see if I was really raised in Pittsburgh."

But now they'll have to save those fashion statements for Thursday night. Or possibly Friday night. Or possibly Christmas Eve. Or whenever it is they play again. And even MLB vice president Jimmie Lee Solomon was making no promises when that might be.

After announcing Wednesday's rainout, Solomon informed the masses that there was a 70-percent chance of rain Thursday, possibly 2½ inches of rain predicted for Friday and nothing more than "hope" that those fronts "turn around and don't come through," he said.

Solomon didn't rule out waiting until Saturday and Sunday. And other MLB officials were suggesting that, if the forecast remains gruesome in Detroit, they might just drop in a scheduled off day or travel day when, or if, the Series ever makes it back there.

All that may sound grim. But it's time for this word from our history department, in a desperate attempt to present an upbeat spin on a World Series that so far has churned out:

(A) the lowest TV ratings in Series history off the field.

And (B) two teams that have gotten so few hits on the field that they both need to send out a search party to look for the Mendoza Line. (St. Louis' team batting average: .196. Detroit's team average: .185. Last time both teams were below .200 after three games of a World Series: 1972.)

But remember this: Back in 1975, another World Series was thrown into turmoil by nonstop rain. After Game 5 of that Series was played on a Thursday, Friday was a travel day, and that was followed by three straight rainouts Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

So it was five days before another game was played. And Game 6 in 1975 only turned into possibly The Greatest World Series Game Ever Played. (Hello, Carlton Fisk.)

In other words, there's hope somewhere out there beyond the rain clouds. And none of the principals involved in this meteorological fiasco will let themselves forget that.

"We're here to play baseball," said Jim Leyland, "whenever we possibly play it again."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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