Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doing the Unthinkable (as it relates to Philly)

Didn't that whole rainout scenario last night just seem a little bit fishy to anyone else. It all went down a bit to perfect for my liking. So for that reason, I'm going to do something I almost never do. I'm going to write something remotely sympathetic to the city of Philadelphia. And it involves the World Series and conspiracy theories.

I just finished watching the six-inning suspended game five of the World Series and couldn't help but think of a grand Bud Selig/MLB scheme to manipulate something about the World Series. What exact manipulations and who it favors is still what I'm trying to figure out.

Think about it, the rain started coming down with the Phillies up 2-1 and the umpires decided to keep the game going out of fear for the mass hysteria that might ensue within Citizens Bank Park if they called things off before five innings had passed. See, the if the Phils were leading after five, the game would officially be in the books should the league be unable to restart play due to continued rain (which was in the forecast). Basically, at this point in time, the Rays were praying to the heavens for the rain to get heavier so there would be a rainout and the team could start from scratch rather than be down 2-1. Meanwhile, the Phils were just counting down the outs until the fifth inning.

But then, once the five-inning mark passed and the Phils still led, the philosophy of both sides changed. The Rays now needed action to be prolonged, despite the rain picking up, because once the umps called the game, the Rays stood a good chance of losing the entire World Series in the process. Over in the Phils dugout, I'm sure Charlie Manuel and his aw shucks attitude were thinking "Aw Shucks, I hope this rain gets heavier so we can end this bad boy and I get showered with champagne."

As this was all going on, and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver of Fox began questioning just how reaosnable it was to keep playing, I couldn't help but think about what MLB was going to do if the weather cost the Rays a legitimate nine innings to salvage the series. Add in some egregious squeezing by home plate ump Jeff Kellogg on Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir last night and to me, you've got the makings of a full-fledged conspiracy theory.

Jeff Kellogg was horrendous behind the plate last night

Oh yeah, and what other league would allow these kinds of mistakes to be made by a crew officiating a championship series:

The Philadelphia Phillies scored in the first inning of Game 4 on Sunday night after Jimmy Rollins scampered safely back to third during a rundown. But television replays showed he was tagged on the backside by Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria and should have been called out by third base ump Tim Welke.

"He's seen the replay. He knows he missed it," Mike Port, Major League Baseball's vice president for umpiring, said Monday.


There were a couple of disputed calls during the first two games at Tampa Bay, too. Maddon screamed for a balk on Cole Hamels when he picked off a runner in the opener, and Rocco Baldelli drew a key walk on a checked swing in Game 2 that the Phillies thought had been called strike three.

Now I only call this an MLB conspiracy theory because, well, everything worked out in the end. The Rays managed to score in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game, giving Bud Selig and his goons the perfect opportunity to suspend things for another day. I don't exactly know what went down in the decision making process, and it sounds like neither do a lot of the professional media who were in attendance for the game and the hastily called Selig press conference at around 11 pm last night:

Selig insisted the game would have been delayed in the middle of the sixth inning no matter what. Of course, his decision to suspend the game became incredibly easy (and wonderfully convenient) when the Rays splashed across the tying run in the top of the inning. If Carlos Pena hadn't driven in B.J. Upton with an RBI single, I wonder if Selig would have really pulled the plug on the game in the sixth.

We'll never know for sure. But we do know, according to Utley, that the field was no longer playable. And umpire Tim Tschida said the wind and rain threatened to make the game "comical." It didn't reach that point, but it was getting dangerously close.

Either way, I think both teams have reasons to gripe here. The Rays almost lost the series because Selig insisted on playing in a quasi-monsoon. And Philly was denied a chance to win a tainted series (albeit still a World Series win) because Selig was waiting for his perfect scenario to play out.

This is Bud Selig meeting with Congress. I wonder what he acts like when the bright lights are off.

Personally I think this game should have never taken place or at least called before five innings. The rain was just as bad starting in the third inning as it was in the sixth. Frankly, the game should at least been moved up to a 7 pm start time to avoid the heavier rains later in the night. I understand Selig really, really wanted to get this game in, so that if the Rays did happen to win, the two teams could get back to the domed confines of the Trop, where weather would no longer be a factor (Forecasts are calling for more yuckiness today in Philly).

But in the process, he's made me question just a little bit of the validity behind this series. Yeah, it's probably nothing, but like I said at the top, this all just worked out a little too perfectly for this perpetual skeptic. The worst part about this is the Rays had already checked out of their hotel in Philly and had to go searching for a new one in the middle of the night. Talk about providing the best for your World Series participants, Bud.

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