This whole issue is not an argument for moving the World Series to neutral locations in Florida, or southern California, or Aruba, or anyplace else that has better weather. That is not the issue. Retractable roofs, those are the issues. The professional football team has a dome in St. Louis. The professional baseball team has a beautiful new yard, completely defenseless against the elements. But this is open-air tradition and with it we must not trifle.
You cannot take the World Series away from the people who support these teams. But when you have a 162-game season and a three-tiered playoff system, you are going to extend the postseason into bad weather at this latitude, or even more so at Detroit's latitude. It doesn't necessarily mean more rain, but it could mean snow.
This was the fourth rainout of the 2006 postseason. That seems a little heavy, unless you consider the 1911 World Series, the old New York Giants against the old Philadelphia A's, when Game 4 was postponed for six straight days. Hey, we've got a shot at the all-time record. We just need to rain them one at a time.
So the Series stands at: Cardinals 2, Tigers 1, Mother Nature 1, but gaining. Why is it raining on our World Series? None of us can have the cosmic answer to that question. But there are theories that mere mortals can advance, carefully and one at a time. Here come two:
This will give all of us much more time to talk about the substance on Kenny Rogers' hand. This is really unfortunate, but sometimes reality is harsh. I think we should seek an alternative source of entertainment.
In my other life, the 22 hours per day spent answering questions in our MLB.com World Series Mailbag, there have been scores, nay, hundreds of e-mails seeking penalties against Rogers, from ejection to suspension to a lifetime ban to capital punishment. Some of these just barely miss the point.
Rogers' Game 2 guilt or innocence was a matter that was determined by the umpiring crew. Its determination was that the substance on his hand was dirt. Baseball is played on dirt. Therefore, dirt is not a foreign substance. Thus, he is guilty of nothing except questionable hygiene. He cannot be penalized for having dirt on his hands.
If this was the most serious issue ever to confront the game, then the St. Louis Cardinals should have asked the umpires to inspect Rogers. The umpires must have this request before they can make the inspection. It is not the umpires' fault that the Cardinals did not make this request. They were left to observe rather than inspect, and their observation was "dirt." Maybe they were right. Maybe they were wrong. But they are the judge, the jury and the whole of the baseball legal system at that moment. They have ruled. Case closed.
But, no. This basically has become a question of whether you are a Tigers or a Cardinals fan. If you are a Tigers fan, you say: "He washed his hand and then shut out St. Louis for the next seven innings. He is guilty only of greatness under pressure. Stop persecuting him."
If you are a Cardinals fan, you say: "He was cheating. It was obvious. What about his cap band, huh? We were robbed. The credibility of the game has been diminished. This is a sad day, indeed, for Western civilization."
The ironic thing about this episode is that it will only have legs if the Tigers win the Series. If the Cardinals win, it is a mere footnote.
But for now, this issue will go on through Rogers' next start, which, at the present rate of rain will be roughly Nov. 12. And that brings us to the second reason that it is raining on our World Series.
The law of averages. There has not been a rainout of a World Series game since 1996. And before that, there had not been a World Series rainout since 1986.
Does anybody discern the subtle pattern here? Every 10 years, there is a World Series rainout. Given the late October climate in many World Series locales, this track record is practically arid. We have been nothing less than lucky, fortunate, possibly even blessed, by this lack of rainfall.
"Rainwater pourin' under my hood,
"I knew that was doin' my Ford a good ..."
Chuck Berry wrote that. He's from St. Louis. Why toss that into the middle of this column? It shows that I am diligently looking for a local angle and that rain is not always a bad thing.
Meanwhile, back at the rainout, the record shows that we are simply due for some World Series rain. And here it is. It is going to rain now in St. Louis. It is going to rain a lot. There is a great deal of precipitation in the forecast, but there is no real cause for concern. Some of us, however, will be moving to a hotel much further away from the Mississippi River.