Rain was in the forecast throughout Saturday night in the Bronx, with the chances increasing closer to midnight ET. Major League Baseball made a swift decision to accede to Mother Nature, announcing at 6:05 p.m. -- one hour and 52 minutes before the scheduled start -- that Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the Angels and Yankees was postponed.
It is rescheduled for 8:20 p.m. on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. No starting pitchers were adversely affected, because the decision was announced soon enough to avoid costly pregame warmups by the starters in the bullpens, and there was no nagging start-and-stop to deal with for the Angels, the Yankees or the fans, who were on their way or already there.
"The one thing is, you don't want to stop and start," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't think any of us are exactly sure when the rain is going to get out of here, how late it's going to be. So I respect the decision that they made. I'm sure both clubs would have loved to have played. The weather is not permitting."
"Obviously, the weather is a determining factor," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I know they always put a lot of weight on that, as far as the integrity of the starter. If you're going to lose a starter, either he warms up or throws a half-inning or throws two innings -- that really affects the outcome of a ballgame. And if you can stay away from it, I know it's a concern of ours and a concern of Major League Baseball's. I'm sure it is of the Yankees, too. So we'll have everything intact ready to go [on Sunday]."
It is not always this easy, as most anyone who has been to MLB games can attest. Sometimes you go by the best available meteorological outlooks and yet you still are thrown a curve. Just consider what happened in the final homestand of the 2008 baseball season.
Since Wild Card era began in 1995
ALCS, Gm. 1
BAL at NYY
WS, Gm. 1
ATL at NYY
ALCS, Gm. 4
NYY at BOS
ALCS, Gm. 3
NYY at BOS
ALCS, Gm. 4
LAA at NYY
ALDS, Gm. 2
DET at NYY
NLCS, Gm. 1
STL at NYM
NLCS, Gm. 5
NYM at STL
WS, Gm. 5*
TB at PHI
NLDS, Gm. 3
PHI at COL
ALCS, Gm. 6
LAA at NYY
*- Rain forced the suspension of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The game was completed two days later.
Game 3 of the 2008 World Series between the Rays and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park did not start until 10:06 p.m. ET because of inclement weather. Game 5 was the worst yet. It was cold and rainy that night, but forecasts called for the storm system to move through after miserable playing conditions during the first 5 1/2 innings. Fans waited in the concourses, until finally the announcement came over the loudspeakers that the field was "unplayable" and the game would be suspended and resumed whenever the weather allowed.
The weather finally allowed it two nights later. Commissioner Bud Selig made the decision to resume the game at 8:37 p.m. ET on that Wednesday after studying various weather forecasts and getting reports on the ground from MLB officials. The longest World Series game played, by actual time, picked up with Geoff Jenkins leading off for Philadelphia in the bottom of the sixth, and the Phillies went on to win, so all was fine with the home crowd.
"We wouldn't have played it if there was any chance we had to stop," Selig explained after meeting with umpires prior to Game 5 that final night. "The cold we have to deal with. That happens when you're playing this time of year."
It just happened here on the East Coast in another important October game, but this time, it was a relatively easy call, and the right one. It also marked the second time in four years that an LCS game in New York was rained out. On Oct. 11, 2006, just hours after Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died in a private-plane crash in Manhattan, rain washed out Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and the Mets at Shea Stadium, and it was made up the next night.
This is the second postponement of the 2009 postseason, and the first one was not a surprise. Snow was forecast as the Rockies and Phillies moved their NL Division Series to Denver for Game 3, and many people were speculating about how it would affect the field of play. It never had a chance, because the game was called well in advance of the start.
This was the verbatim announcement of the ALCS Game 6 decision:
Game Six of the 2009 American League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York has been postponed due to inclement weather. Game Six of the ALCS has been rescheduled for Sunday at 8:20 p.m. (ET) / 5:20 p.m. (PT) and will be televised by FOX Sports. If a Game Seven is necessary, then it will be played on Monday at 7:57 p.m. (ET) / 4:57 p.m. (PT).
Those fans with tickets for Game Six will now be able to use them only on Sunday. Those fans with tickets for Game Seven will be able to use them form Monday's game if a Game Seven is played.
Then the clubs sent their managers and Sunday scheduled starting pitchers to the interview room, and just like that, the clubs and the fans headed for the exits. There would be no shortstops squinting up at the night sky in search of a ball that appeared larger than raindrops; there would be no fans huddling on the new Yankee Stadium concourses; and there would be no baseball.
Clinton deMontel, a non-Yankees fan in Kansas City, tweeted this to @MLB within a half-hour of the official announcement: "THANK YOU for not making [an] awkward situation where they have to end a game early or play through crap. Good decision!"
This one was called fast.
Sometimes it's an easier call than others.
"I know a lot of guys were really excited to play today," Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. "But the big man upstairs didn't think it was the right time for us to play, so we'll get back out there tomorrow. No big deal."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.