Postseason awash with rainouts
Three postponements in '06 most since Wild Card era began
ST. LOUIS -- The 2006 postseason will be remembered for such sights as Magglio Ordonez's walk-off homer to win a pennant for Detroit, Paul Lo Duca's double-tag of Dodgers in the NLDS, Frank Thomas' two homers during the dazzling Barry Zito-Johan Santana duel, Spieziomania in St. Louis and much more to come in the World Series.
Here's one other thing this postseason also will be remembered for: rainouts.
There have been three so far this month, the first time that has happened in a Major League Baseball postseason under the eight-team format. In fact, the number of 2006 postseason rainouts is only one shy of the number of all postseason rainouts since Wild Cards and the Division Series were introduced in 1995.
The rainout on Monday night at Busch Stadium -- the result of 12 hours of non-stop rain in St. Louis -- was the second of this National League Championship Series. The start of the series was delayed a night because of a heavy downpour on Oct. 11 at Shea Stadium, hours after the tragic loss of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle in an afternoon plane crash just miles away.
The other rainout during this postseason also involved a New York team: Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. That was memorable because forecasters were looking at storms moving in fast from the north, and although unplayable rain didn't show up until about 11 p.m. ET, all parties had to wait for a couple of hours before the decision could be made to call it off. The momentum changed in that series after the rainout, and the Tigers haven't lost since -- still causing many people to ponder what might have happened had they played that night.
No one likes rainouts. A rare exception was in 1948, when the Boston Post offered this now-famous poem verse in honor of two Boston Braves pitchers who were the only hope: "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain."
This is, by all accounts, the most rainouts in a postseason since the 1975 World Series. It rained in Boston for three straight days between Oct. 18-20 of that year, meaning three rainouts before they finally were able to play one of the most memorable games in baseball history: Game 6, won by the Red Sox on Carlton Fisk's homer off the foul pole in left. It was followed by a Reds World Series championship the next day.
The only rainouts in the Wild Card era before this year are listed below, and it is easy to see a trend here: Modern rainouts always involve New York teams:
Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS on Oct. 15, Yankees at Red Sox.
Game 4 of the 2003 ALCS on Oct. 12, Yankees at Red Sox.
Game 1 of the 1996 World Series on Oct. 19, Braves at Yankees.
Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS on Oct. 9, Orioles at Yankees.
"To me," Mets manager Willie Randolph said after the second rainout in this 2006 NLCS, "come to the ballpark, and you're ready to play, you want to play."
There were four rainouts during the 1962 Fall Classic, which the Yankees finally won because of a Willie McCovey liner that second baseman Bobby Richardson pulled in.
At the 1911 World Series between the Philadelphia A's and New York (that's right) Giants, there were six straight days of rain. It caused seven days to pass between Games 3 and 4 (Oct. 17-24).
Every postseason game in Major League history has lasted at least nine innings, despite lengthy delays during games. Some people will remember the long wait before they played that exciting Game 3 between the Phillies and Blue Jays at Veterans Stadium in the 1993 World Series. If a New York team were involved, who knows what would have happened.
Of course, there have been other notable requirements for the absence of scheduled postseason games. Just before the start of Game 3 in the 1989 "Bay Bridge Series" between the A's and host Giants, the Loma Prieta earthquake ravaged the area and caused major loss of life and damage resulting in a 10-day suspension of the series.
Postseason rain causes problems at many levels, from players to fans to the entire MLB family, and certainly travel agents. So it usually takes an incredible level of precipitation to entirely ruin the day. The Game 1 rainout last week at Shea was only the seventh in 127 all-time LCS games. That works out to 5.5 percent of LCS games getting washed away.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.