One of the most bizarre weekends on Baltimore Oriole history came to a marvelous burlesque climax yesterday - full of fury and snickers - when rain erased a five run New York seventh inning and handed the Birds a 3-0 victory in six innings.
"That's the most gutless decision I've ever seen," stormed Lou Piniella in the bedlam of the Yankee clubhouse minutes after head umpire Dom Denkinger had declared the Memorial Stadium field unplayable after a 36-minute rain delay.
"They waited 2 1/2 hours on Friday night before they called that game," Piniella raged as his mates chorused amens. "Today they wait half an hour and don't even try to dry the field.
"That little shrimp (Baltimore Manager Earl) Weaver has these umpires intimidated" Piniella went on at the top of his voice so the umps in the adjoining room could hear.
"Weaver shows up the bums all day, then they don't nail him to the wall when they have the chance."
"Weaver and his groundskeeper (Pat) Santarone work hand in hand," former Oriole Paul Blair informed his fellow Yanks. "They always have."
"You can bet Earl told Santarone to dump all the water on the tarp right in the middle of that lake in left field. And that's just what he did. That's what canceled this game."
New York Manager Bob Lemon visited the umpires' dressing room immediately after the game to file an official protest. He complained there had been no effort to remove the water from that particularly flooded area in short left, and to get the field into playing condition.
Denkinger, chief of the umpiring crew, contended that the field was unplayable "even before the game started and the rain made it 10 times worse."
On Friday the same teams, the same umps, waited 147 minutes until almost midnight before the game was awarded to the Yanks, 2-1, in 5 1/2 innings.
The O's screamed that night because they were not allowed to use the a.m. hours to get on their hands and knees and try to mop up Lake Mora-Kelly-Lopez with towels.
"Sorry," said Denkinger in effect, looking at the sump hole (caused by the Baltimore Colts' football bench) that was big enough to drown a brontosaurus. "I dont know the rule for taking a free drop on an imbedded outfielder."
On Saturday night the teams endured three delays (76 minutes) because of blackouts.
Minutes after the game an emergency helicopter, part of a SWAT team, landed on the field, barely missing sinking itself in the puddle.
"Don't worry," said Oriole right fielder, Ken Singleton, hearing the helicopter hubbub. "It's just Al Bumbry's new hair dryer."
Yesterday was the topper. The visitors howled into the night, 14-year Yankee veteran Roy White saying, "This defies all logic. They have seven hours to get this field in shape before curfew, and they call it in 36 minutes. Don't they know this is a pennant race?"
Just an hour after the game was called, Reggie Jackson of the Yankees toured the warning track. The skies were blue, the puddle had abated (low tide), and Memorial Stadium was green and playable except for one area the size of the mound in left. "We should have played this one," he said.
"This is justice," said Weaver in the other clubhouse. "The field was in exactly the same unplayable condition as Friday night. We got the short end there."
Then Weaver glowed. "The press, my bosses sometimes, and even a couple of my players have said that I make umpires' calls go against us because I aggravate the umpires," said the skipper ejected six times in the last five weeks.
"Now the Yankees say I win games by intimidating the umpires. What is it?
"I say I just want a properly called game. Let the chips fall where they may."
Weaver snickered, thinking of an old adversary and needler: "And today they fell on Piniella."
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
more. "Didn't George Steinbrenner [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
Weaver snorted and chuckled some (Yankee owner) say he'd sue the umpires if one of his players had gotten hurt on Friday night if the umps hadn't called the game?
"That couldn't have been on the umpires' minds, could it?
"George should be happy as hell that they called this game . . . too dangerous for his expensive players, Sure," said Weaver sarcastically, "George did the right thing again."