This evening, baseball got a World Series rainout that helped both teams.
The New York Yankees were glad that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn called off Game 6 at 4 p.m. -- because of wet grounds and a forecast of more rain -- and they are nearly certain that third baseman Graig Nettles (jammed thumb) will be able to play on Wednesday at 8:20 p.m. when they try to win to force a seventh game.
Also, the Yankees are glad that their starter, Tommy John, who had to pitch two innings of relief on Saturday, will have an extra day of rest.
"Nettles was optimistic about starting anyway, but the extra day can do nothing but help him," Yankee Manager Bob Lemon said.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were, perhaps, slightly less delighted about the postponement. Kuhn said the forecast for Wednesday was very respectable -- dry and about 60 degrees. After steady drizzle and fog today, rain began to fall hard about 7:45 p.m. and didn't let up until about two hours later.
Had this game gone on as scheduled, Los Angeles third baseman Ron Cey would not have been able to start because he still was woozy and lightheaded after being hit in the head by a Rich (Goose) Gossage pitch on Sunday. His chances of playing on Wednesday are still problematical.
"I felt good this morning," Cey said, "but this afternoon changed my mind. I was not in good shape. I was relieved to hear that the game was called. I wasn't even going to go to the park and try to dress. How do I feel? Let's just say that I still have my ups and downs.
"The doctors say that if I have a workout (Wednesday) and come out of it with no dizziness or lightheadedness, I can try to play. But, I assure you, if these symptoms persist, I'm not going to permit myself to take the field," said Cey, who is always so formal in his speech that he would look at home in a penguin's tuxedo.
"I have never worn an ear flap, but I will if I play," Cey added. "Sometimes, things happen that have a way of changing your opinions.
"Doctors tell me that if I have dizziness, then hard running might make me black out on the bases. I don't know what the ramifications of that would be," said Cey, "and I'm not about to find out. I'm not going to endanger myself over any game, even this one. This is just potentially too serious. If there's one iota of doubt in my mind, I won't play."
The Dodgers' enthusiasm about the rainout is muted because, even with an extra day, Cey does not seem in any mood to take chances. Also, starter Burt Hooton, who has allowed only one run in 27 October innings, will go from five days' rest, which is one more than he likes, to six days, which sometimes causes a control pitcher such as Hooton to become wild.
No hard feelings seem to remain between Cey and Gossage. "I saw the pitch all the way, but by the time I began to move, it just followed me in like a magnet . . . That pitch had all the prerequisites for a potential fatality," Cey said. "I remember hitting the ground in slow motion. Then it was a stupor . . . like another world. I remember saying, 'What do I look like? Am I all right?' Then, it was just blurry, and gradually, I had the composure to get up . . . I feel extremely fortunate to be standing here. I have not had that experience before and I don't want to have it again.
"Rich (Gossage) came over and spoke to me after the game . . . I have a great deal of respect for him as a player, but I have even more respect for him now as a person."
It's an irony of this Series that these teams seem to have so many parallels.
Both clubs have day-to-day injured third basemen.
Both have spectacularly hot-hitting first basemen -- New York's Bob Watson has a .500 on-base percentage and an .824 slugging percentage, while L.A.'s Steve Garvey is batting .450.
Both have left fielders who are in the most embarrassing slumps of their careers -- L.A.'s Dusty Baker, who got a sprained right wrist scuffling with rowdy Montreal fans who were insulting Dodger wives in a parking lot after the final National League championship series game, is two for 19 in the Series with one RBI. New York's Dave (one for his last 24) Winfield is hitting .056 for the Series, which isn't much out of a thousand.
Both teams have had postseason problems in center field, where New York's Jerry Mumphrey was benched for two games (although he definitely will start in Game 6) and L.A.'s Pedro Guerrero has only in the last two games started to emerge from a horrid slump.
Even the Wednesday starting pitchers -- John and Hooton -- were once roommates as Dodgers.
One great difference, however, exists between these teams. The Yankees, for good or ill, have owner George Steinbrenner.
Last weekend, as the Yankees lost three fundamentally unsound, morale-eroding one-run games in rock-hard Chavez Ravine -- which Watson likens to "playing on the San Bernadino Freeway," -- Steinbrenner was almost certainly a detriment.
New York began this Series without one of its regulars -- its designated hitter, which isn't being used in this Series. When Nettles was hurt, another regular was gone.
In Game 3, Steinbrenner ordered that previously injured Reggie Jackson, who said he was ready to play, be kept on the bench against Fernando Valenzuela. That's another regular lost for a game.
Then, in Games 4 and 5, Steinbrenner decreed that switch-hitter Mumphrey, perhaps the steadiest Yankee in '81, be benched against two southpaws. That's two more games minus a starter.
The Yankee "punishment benchings" are over. Everybody who can play will play. To boot, Steinbrenner has managed to do perhaps the best thing possible; he's made himself the butt of team ridicule by getting into his now-famous elevator brawl.
"George's fight might loosen up the team a little," Lemon said. "On the plane flight back, George was taking a lot of heckling and abuse, and he took it pretty well."
Then Lemon paused for sarcastic effect. "If we win," he said, "you know that'll be the reason."