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Thomas Boswell on the World Series

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By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

PHILADELPHIA As much as everybody enjoys a good controversy and as much fun as I've had making sport of Bud Selig over the years, I regret to report that the commissioner and baseball probably handled Monday night's World Series Game 5 monsoon fiasco fairly well.

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A suspended game between the Phils and Rays, tied at 2 after the top of the sixth inning, is the proper resolution of this quagmire evening. "The game will be resumed when weather conditions are appropriate," Selig said. "We'll stay [in Philly] if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here."

Where's W.C. Fields when you need him? Second prize is a trip to the World Series in Philadelphia. First prize is a reprieve to leave.

Though millions of TV viewers apparently didn't know it, the fifth inning and top of the sixth of Game 5 were not, in the minds of the teams, a heart-stopping, race-against-the-rain drama in which the Rays had to score a run in the top of the sixth -- as they did -- to prevent a rain-shortened Phils win that would have ended the Series.

Sorry. Both teams, or at least their top executives, as well as the umpiring crew, have known since Saturday that Selig had decided, with bad weather on the way, that every game in this Series would be played to its full normal conclusion. The commissioner simply decided that he would use his powers to invoke a "rain delay that would last as long as necessary, even if that meant days."

Rays Manager Joe Maddon, in turn, had a talk with team president Matt Silverman on the subject. "No, we did not feel like we were in that dire of a [save the season] situation in the sixth inning," Maddon said. "I was pretty confident the World Series wouldn't end like that" with a rain-shortened victory for the Phillies.

"As the commissioner said we had a discussion and the judgment if there was a rain delay, it would certainly be the judgment of the commissioner," Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick said. "We wanted to make sure that if this game was to be played, we wanted it to play to the conclusion. We were aware that the commissioner could, even with the score not tied, could continue this game later and call a rain delay until the proper conditions did exist."

And you thought only secretaries of the Treasury made up their powers as they go along.

Who knew baseball had a Selig Doctrine?

And that it's the right one.

It's preposterous to play from late March until nearly November then end the World Series with a 5 1/2 -inning game. It's bad enough that, with unnecessarily late starting times, Game 3 did not end until 1:47 a.m. Sunday. How ridiculous would it be if, hypothetically, a concluding game of the Series were delayed until after midnight by rain, then the PA system announced that there will be no further play and "team X wins the World Series."

If fans have a gripe about this night it's that baseball decided to start the game with light rain falling. "We were told at about 7:45 that there would only be about one-tenth inch of rain between then and midnight or after," Selig said. "Even though this isn't a democracy, everybody in the room [both teams and the umpires] wanted to play."


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