Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Take Me Out to the Cold Rain

Mother Nature spoiled Game 5 of the World Series last night with a chilly downpour from an early nor'easter. Commissioner Bud Selig suspended the game after 5½ innings—marking the first time a World Series contest has ever been suspended. Heavy snow fell in parts of the Philadelphia metropolitan area this morning, and tonight's continuation of Game 5 has already been rescheduled for tomorrow evening.

Whereas Commissioner Selig has seen fit to preserve what little is left of Major League Baseball's integrity—as well as make Philadelphians wait agonizingly for their first major-sports championship in a quarter-century—by not permitting adverse weather to influence a World Series game's outcome, we should remind ourselves that baseball used to be played and administrated by real men. Just look at the photo above: Opening Day, 1911, in Detroit. Blizzard conditions. The White Sox catcher eschews a squat, lest he be buried in drifting snow. Leadoff man Davy Jones' hands are stuck to the bat.* And the umpire needed two days stuffed inside a hot dog cart to be thawed out. Yet the wintry assault couldn't keep Ty Cobb from going 3-for-4 and spiking a vociferous spectator with a flying drop-kick in near-whiteout conditions.

*This is not the Davy Jones of The Monkees—although this Davy Jones did live long enough to hear "Daydream Believer" and subsequently drive himself to the morgue.

Sure, last night's inclement weather caused atrocious playing conditions and perhaps even posed a minor health hazard to thousands of fans stuck in steady, cold rain. I'll admit—I felt awful for the Phillie Phanatic, its fur soaked and matted (and as seen here, too weak to move). As far as I know, the Phanatic is cold-blooded. It may not have survived the rain delay. Has anyone looked into that?

Still, harsh April and October weather was far more common in the old days, before global warming shortened winter's grasp, and the Fall Classic has been no stranger to adverse conditions—such as in the inaugural World Series of 1903, when a snowbound Cy Young of the Boston Americans (a/k/a Red Sox) battled the elements as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 long after heavy snow had chased away most fans. Seen below (with 3rd-baseman Jimmy Collins guarding against the bunt), Young called this "my coldest day in baseball" but still stifled the Pirates for a 7-3 victory.

Bud Selig has to suck it up and let these guys play ball. And I mean literally suck it up—get down on his hands and knees and suck up all the water on the basepaths and mound so that the Phils can bring our city a championship with no more delay. Selig has been highly culpable in Major League Baseball's recent black eyes (ignoring the rise of steroids, ineffectually presiding over the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series, declaring a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game), so the least he can do to clean up baseball is to clean up the baseball diamond.

Assume the position, Bud.

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