World Series Notebook
Rainy Forecast Could Force Change in World Series Schedule
Friday, October 24, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Oct. 23 -- With heavy rain in the forecast for Philadelphia on Saturday night, Major League Baseball officials already were preparing a rainout contingency plan that would involve playing Game 5 (if necessary) on Tuesday night, previously scheduled as a travel day, and no day off between that game in Philadelphia and Game 6 at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.
The forecast is dire enough that MLB officials, at a standard daily meeting Thursday morning, discussed calling off Saturday night's Game 3 as early as Friday afternoon, if the outlook does not improve. For now, however, the game is still on as scheduled.
A rainout that pushed Game 3 back to Sunday could become a tactical advantage for the Phillies, in that they would be able to start ace lefty Cole Hamels on normal four days' rest in Game 4 Monday night. Still, he probably would not be available to pitch again in the series, save for an emergency inning or two in Game 7 on two days' rest.
Among the several trades frequently cited as helping the Tampa Bay Rays go from the worst record in the majors in 2007 to the American League pennant in 2008, one that is rarely mentioned is the December 2007 deal that sent troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes to the Washington Nationals for left-handed pitching prospect Glenn Gibson.
On its surface, the trade did not help the Rays, as Dukes had a strong season for the Nationals, while Gibson went 4-8 with a 7.27 ERA at two minor league levels. However, without citing Dukes specifically, the Rays' management believes an important element to the team's turnaround was a change in its clubhouse culture, which had been negatively impacted by Dukes's many off-field issues.
"It was a matter of identifying what needed to be changed, and going about attempting to change it," Manager Joe Maddon said.
Asked specifically about the impact of the Dukes trade, Rays General Manager Andrew Friedman said, "We felt it was in both of our best interests to [make the trade], in that it allow [Dukes] a much better chance to go on and have success, and allow us to divorce ourselves from the distractions of last year."
Both teams made changes in their starting lineups for Game 2, with the Phillies using Greg Dobbs as designated hitter, and the Rays playing Rocco Baldelli in right field and Cliff Floyd at DH.
Baldelli, who bats right-handed, primarily plays against lefties, but right-handed hitters (.293 batting average, .835 OPS) actually outperformed left-handers (.235, .740) this year against Phillies starter Brett Myers.