Friday, May 13, 2011

No More Washing Away Ball Games

            Imagine for a moment that you are a professional baseball player and you have finally made it to the big leagues.
            Pretend that you are Mitch Moreland, a 1B/OF for the Texas Rangers, and you have finally become an every day starter after beginning your professional career in 2007.  Five years of playing, waiting and doing your part has finally paid off.
            Now flash to this past Wednesday.  You can use whatever ‘flash’ you want.  Quantum Leap flash.  Wayne’s World flash.  For those of you who like the show ‘Scrubs,’ you can use that one.  Whichever one you like.
            You step to the plate in the third inning, as Mitch Moreland of course, with the bases loaded.  The sky is dark, the fans are screaming and the pitcher is starting to get nervous because he has just allowed five straight batters to reach base.  You tighten your grip on the bat as you realize that this is the opportunity to blow the game open.
            The pitch comes in.  SMACK!  You know it as soon as it leaves the bat.  It’s outta here.  You watch in excitement as the ball sails over the right field fence.  You try to suppress your feelings as you round the bases after your first-career grand slam but it’s hard.  Your heart is pumping.  Your hands are shaking.  You can’t wait to get back to the dugout so you can be congratulated by all your teammates.
            Then, a few minutes later, the skies open up and it begins to pour.  After hours of sitting around and waiting for the rain to let up the game is eventually postponed.  Not suspended.  Postponed.
            See, there is a big difference between the two.  Suspended means the game will pick up on a later date from the point in which the game was stopped.  Postponed means the game was cancelled.  Or in this case, it’s like it never happened.
According to MLB rules, if a game can not be finished and is not past the fifth inning (or past the top of the fourth with the home team winning), the game and its stats will not count.  The two teams will have to start over from scratch.  Only if the score is tied or the home team is losing and has yet to get its ‘last ups’ – and it is after the fifth inning - will a game be suspended and finished.
This means that first-career grand slam that you we so happy to hit no longer counts.  Your ecstatic fantasy owner that just picked you up the day before and got you into his lineup is now extremely pissed off.  Everything is erased.
On the flip side, it turned out to be a good thing for Oakland pitcher Gio Gonzalez.  His six hits and seven earned runs no longer inflate his ERA and WHIP.  His atrocious performance no longer matters.  In theory, he never even took the mound.
I think this rule is downright ludicrous.  No game or its stats should ever be erased.  Any game that is stopped due to inclimate weather should be suspended until a later date.  It’s not like it was the players’ fault that it started to rain or snow or, in Minnesota’s case, hail the size of golf balls.  There is no reason to say that just because a game did not get past the fifth inning it doesn’t count.
So Major League Baseball is telling me that if a guy becomes the 14th player to pop two grand slams in the first four innings (or the same game) and the game gets called - he is just as quickly erased from the record books?  That doesn’t sound very fair or logical to me.
What if a pitcher has struck out every batter he has faced through four innings?  What if he has a great chance of tying the all-time record for most punch-outs in a game with 20?  Just because it starts to rain and the game can’t be finished he gets his historic performance thrown by the way-side?  How dumb does that sound?
Heck, in that case if I am a pitcher and I am getting hit all over the ball park early on, I will just throw over to first base a million times and pray that it starts to rain.  I’ll step off the rubber and wipe my forehead for two hours in hopes that the game won’t make it past the fifth inning.  I know it sounds outlandish, but it’s technically a possibility.
All the two teams would have to do is finish the game as part of a double-header or on one of their days off.  It wouldn’t matter if it was the next day or the next month.  The point is that no actions went to waste.  Yeah, the same pitcher may not finish the game (although he could if it is later down the road), but he would still retain all of his accomplishments or failures.
I know it can work both ways (a guy hitting two homers or a guy striking out twice), but this obviously hurts the players with the positive stats more.  If a guy strikes out twice and gets them taken away - who cares?  But if a guy drops his first-career grand salami I bet he is going to be upset.  And who knows, maybe there are some performance-based clauses in his contract.  Maybe he comes up three RBIs short at the end of the year and loses out on $500,000.  Again, it’s a stretch, but it’s definitely possible.
The point I am trying to make is that no pitch, swing or stat should be washed out by the weather.  Instead of making up a full nine innings on a later date, why not just pick up from where the game left off.  Why should it matter if it was in the third inning or the seventh inning?
Come on, Major League Baseball.  Be nice and give Mitch Moreland back his first career grand-slam… and me my ten fantasy points.

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