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In a first, World Series game suspended

In a first, World Series game suspended

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PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time in Major League Baseball history, a World Series game has been suspended. Rain halted Game 5 of the Fall Classic in the bottom of the sixth inning on Monday night when the field at Citizens Bank Park was deemed unplayable.

The tarpaulin was pulled across the infield at 10:40 p.m. ET, with the Phillies and Rays tied, 2-2. On Tuesday, resumption of the game was rescheduled for 8:37 p.m. ET on Wednesday, but it remained a matter for Mother Nature -- not the Phillies, the Rays or even the office of the Commissioner will have much control over it.

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The unprecedented situation on Monday created at least one more night in the tale of the 2008 Major League season. With more inclement weather forecast for the Philadelphia area, a resumption time remained indefinite. At the directive of Commissioner Bud Selig, the game will be resumed "when weather conditions are deemed appropriate." World Series Game 5 tickets will be required for entry when the game resumes.

"I can't tell you tonight when we'll resume," Selig said Monday. "We'll resume, weather permitting, when the health and welfare of our players is protected as much as it can be."

Under Major League rule 4.12(6), the game is suspended with the Phillies due to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning. Selig said that he would not have permitted the game -- which could clinch a championship for the Phillies -- to be called without nine full innings being played. Both clubs were aware of that fact before the first pitch was thrown.

"I have to use my judgment. It's not a way to end a World Series," Selig said.

There has never been a rain-shortened game in World Series history.

When the World Series resumes, it will do so at Citizens Bank Park. No consideration will be given to moving the contest to another venue, Selig said, like the domed Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., which awaits a potential Game 6 if the Rays are able to advance the series that far.

"We'll stay here," Selig said. "We'll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here."

Ordering turkey and cranberry sauce would be premature, but more inclement weather is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Selig acknowledged that October is a month where ideal conditions do not always exist, and vowed to be "very sensitive and thorough in at least making sure that we don't have a situation like we had."

GAME 5 SUSPENSION
Commissioner Selig cited rule 4.12(a)(6) in explaining the suspension of Game 5. According to the rule, enacted for the 2007 season, any official game halted with the score tied "shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date."

In this scenario, rule 4.12(c) for suspended games is enacted: "A suspended game shall be resumed at the exact point of suspension of the original game. The completion of a suspended game is a continuation of the original game. The lineup and batting order of both teams shall be exactly the same as the lineup and batting order at the moment of suspension, subject to the rules governing substitution. Any player may be replaced by a player who had not been in the game prior to the suspension. No player removed before the suspension may be returned to the lineup."

Prior to 1980, a game called due to inclement weather would have reverted back to the beginning of the inning, with the Phillies leading, 2-1, since Philadelphia did not bat in the bottom of the inning. In 1980, the "reverting back" was discontinued and the game was henceforth declared a suspended game. Rule 4.12(a)(6) was added after the 2006 season so that any game suspended after becoming official would be declared a suspended game. Therefore, Game 5 will resume with the score tied at 2.

"I don't want to speculate now, we'll see what happens," Selig said. "But we're not going to resume until we have decent weather conditions."

The evening began with cautious optimism on the part of Major League Baseball and the two World Series clubs. Selig said that a meeting was held -- as it was before Game 3, which was delayed 91 minutes by rain -- with Phillies GM Pat Gillick, Rays GM Andrew Friedman, both managers, the umpiring crew and Phillies head groundskeeper Mike Boekholder.

Though Monday opened as an overcast but dry day in Philadelphia, the forecast grew progressively worse. The three meteorological agencies used by Major League Baseball all recommended to Selig at approximately 7:45 p.m. ET that there would be 1/10th of an inch of precipitation until midnight, and all parties involved voted to play.

"Given the weather forecast we had, and we had monitored it over and over again, it was a decision that we made," Selig said. "And obviously I made it with some significant trepidation, but had the forecast held, we would have been OK."

Rain began falling significantly in the fourth inning, and Selig met with the groundskeeper in the fifth inning. The sand-based field of Citizens Bank Park absorbs water well, but the condition deteriorated over the next 1 1/2 innings, prompting crew chief Tim Welke to wave the teams off after the top of the sixth.

"The infield was in bad shape," said the Phillies' Chase Utley. "The grounds crew did an outstanding job getting it dry, but by the end, it was in really bad shape."

Welke commended the grounds crew, who groomed the field every half-inning once rain intensified. Puddles formed on the warning track and parts of the infield, Welke said that due to the efforts of Boekholder's crew, the integrity of the mound and the batter's box was never compromised.

"They were keeping up," Welke said. "Then the velocity of the rain made it such when we were playing at the top of the sixth it became harder and harder. ... Guys weren't falling off the mound pitching, delivering, and the hitters weren't slipping out of the box. So we felt comfortable going. But due to just the velocity of the rain, Mike and his crew couldn't keep up with keeping the field, so at that point we were going to stop."

Tim Tschida, who was umpiring first base, said that the wind -- clocked in the 30s and blowing the center-field flags stiffly -- had turned around and started coming in from right field, creating a situation where players had trouble catching the ball.

"Now the game runs the risk of being comical," Tschida said. "We never reached that point, and our goal all along was to stay that way. It turns out we have pretty identical line scores at the end of the day, and it didn't seem to be worse for one team or the other. What's fair is fair with us, and we just felt that we went as far as we could go."

Players in both clubhouses were not pleased by the suspended game, but understood given the conditions. Some remarked that they were surprised that the game even proceeded as far as it did, but understood the magnitude of the event on the whole.

"We kind of figured they were going to try to get the game in, so we just played until they told us to stop," the Rays' Carl Crawford said. "It didn't seem to get better. Then the rain started coming down harder and the wind started blowing harder. Things didn't seem to get better."

The conditions created in-game delays. Grant Balfour -- the current pitcher in the game for Tampa Bay when play resumes -- had to wait to make his warmup tosses after a fifth-inning pitching change, and the infield was coated with fresh Diamond Dry before the top of the sixth inning, leaving Cole Hamels not having thrown a pitch for a span of 30 minutes.

"You could see on their faces it was terrible out there," Rays reliever Trever Miller said. "Just looking out from the perch we had out there, there were puddles on the field. In the World Series, you don't need to be playing in that kind of weather and get somebody hurt. That's not real baseball."

Tampa Bay tied the game in the top of the sixth inning when B.J. Upton legged out an infield single to shortstop and, running on a muddy infield, stole second base. Carlos Pena drove Upton home with the tying run with an RBI single to center field, and Hamels retired Evan Longoria on an inning-ending flyout before the game was halted.

"It was windy. It was raining. It was cold," Pena said. "But it was one of those things where, man, this is crazy. This is kind of fun. This is a great story to be a part of."

When play resumes, Balfour would be in line to face the No. 9 hitter in Philadelphia's lineup for the bottom of the sixth inning. That would have been Hamels, who pitched six innings of two-run, five-hit ball, but will almost certainly now be removed for a pinch-hitter in what was likely his final game of the season.

"It's unfortunate, it truly is," Hamels said. "I don't think I could have planned on the most perfect last outing that I could possibly have, but you know what? I'm going to have to give it to Mother Nature. I guess [I'll] go out there for next year's World Series."

Had the Phillies been leading after 5 1/2 innings, Selig said, the game would have moved into an indefinite rain delay lasting "a day or two or three, or whatever." An old Major League rule would have reverted play back to the top of the inning, which had Philadelphia leading 2-1, but that rule was amended after the 2006 season.

The change, made by the Playing Rules Committee, states that a tied regulation game is suspended and resumed before the next scheduled game between the same two clubs on the same grounds. A provision is included that the game may be played before the next scheduled game at the visiting club's grounds, if no more games remain at the original club's home park, but Selig insists that Game 5 will be completed in Philadelphia.

No World Series game has ever been started and not played at least nine innings (three games ended in a tie). There have been 40 postponements in World Series history; 29 due to rain, one due to cold (1903) and a 10-day postponement due to the 1989 Bay Area earthquake. The last time a game was postponed was Game 4 of the 2006 World Series, which was bumped back a day to Oct. 26.

Selig said that Phillies president Dave Montgomery has promised that fans holding tickets for Game 5 will be provided advance notice for the resumption date, which would be played as a night game.

According to the Phillies' rainout policy, if any postseason game is officially rained out or postponed, an announcement regarding the rescheduled date, time and any other particulars will be made (a) on the Phillies' Web site, (b) on WPHT 1210 AM or KYW 1060 AM and, or (c) in local newspapers.

Game 5 tickets include a rain check stub, and replacement tickets will not be issued. Selig promised to "bend over backwards to be sensitive" to the fans of Philadelphia, lauding them as "tremendous."

"These fans obviously came and bought tickets for a night game, so they deserve to come back and see a night game," Selig said. "Yes, it will be the same starting time, whether it's Tuesday night or Wednesday night or Thursday night or whenever. But, yes, it will be."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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