Struck down, but not out

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caldwell-newspaperRemember the one about Cleveland Indians pitcher Ray Caldwell getting struck by lightning?

He was standing on the mound, needing one more out to finish the game when…

BOOM!

Caldwell and the Indians were leading the visiting Philadelphia Athletics 2-1 on a warm August day when a storm rolled off Lake Erie and approached League Park. As rain fell, Caldwell quickly recorded two outs on the A’s and was facing Joe Dugan when lightning flashed down on the ballpark.

It sent spectators scurrying for safety. It put Caldwell on his keister.

“It felt just like somebody came up with a board and hit me on the head and knocked me down,” Caldwell told the Cleveland Press after the game.

Some accounts say the lightning bolt knocked Caldwell out for five minutes. Other reports say the pitcher got up, brushed himself off and recorded the last out. It seems the latter is the more prevalent story.

Players rushed to Caldwell’s aid. Some, such as teammate Ray Chapman, said they felt the “juice” run through their bodies.

When I first began delving into the details of this game back in the spring – I’m writing a story about the contest for the SABR Games Project – I emailed lightning researcher Joseph Dwyer, asking for his thoughts about the players’ claim of felling lightning in their bodies and the subsequent numbness.

“When lightning strikes the ground, the current flows across the surface creating a step voltage. Someone standing with their feet apart can have current go up one leg and down the other,” wrote Dwyer, a professor of physics at the University of New Hampshire. “I would think such a large current through the legs could explain the numbness afterwards.”

One of the players who complained of numbness was Chapman, who nearly a year later was killed after being hit by a pitch thrown from Yankees hurler Carl Mays.

Newspaper reports say lighting danced along the rails of the ballpark.

“Lightning certainly can travel along metal railing,” Dwyer said, a phenomenon he called side flashes.

“When lightning strikes, there is often tens of thousands of amps of current and very large voltages,” the professor said. “If some of this current goes into a metal conductor such as fences or railings, the current can travel long distances, causing sparks to other objects along the way.”

One interesting side note from newspaper accounts says that Indians’ catcher Steve O’Neill tossed his metal mask as far away as possible to avoid being struck by subsequent bolts.

I asked Dwyer if O’Neill’s mask toss was a necessary move.

“It is a very good idea to take lightning seriously, but the approach was wrong,” Dwyer wrote. “The only way to be relatively safe from lightening is to go inside an enclosed structure like a house or a building.”

But “not a dugout,” Dwyer stressed.

***

Speaking of the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Games Project, I recently had story published there about Joe DiMaggio tying the Yankees’ consecutive game hitting streak at 29. It happened on June 16, 1941 when DiMaggio lined a double to left field shortly after rain had delayed the contest for more than an hour at Yankee Stadium. (Of course rain was involved, right?)

You can read my story here. Plus, there are tons of other extensively researched, well-written essays by numerous SABR members posted on the Games Project website.

Just like we drew it up

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I made a silly prediction earlier today that Game 7 of the World Series would go 13 innings and have a brief rain delay in the 11th. I missed it by one inning. The delay came just as the 10th was about to begin.

Update: The tarp has been rolled off the field and we’re back to baseball.

What a game!!!

Fall Classic Savings Time

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Good news for those of us who have become somewhat sleep deprived during the Major League Baseball playoffs: Tonight’s World Series Game Two start time has been moved up one hour to 7:08 p.m.

Now the bad news: The change was made because of a threat of rain tonight in Cleveland. According to forecasts, rain is expected in the city this afternoon before tapering off.

The chance of precipitation is around 35 percent at 8 p.m. and increases to 50-55 percent in the next couple of hours. At 11 p.m., the chance of precipitation jumps to about 80 percent and 90 at midnight.

Look out if the game goes into extra innings.

The last time a World Series game was suspended for weather was Game 5 in 2008 when rain drenched Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies and Rays were tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth when the Monday night game was called. It was resumed two days later.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was skipper of the Rays, who lost to the Phillies in five games.

Cold temperatures could also be a factor in tonight’s contest at Progressive Field. Game-time temps are expected to be in the high 40s with a wind chill of around 42 degrees. In the opener, in which Cleveland won 6-0, temperatures hung around 50 degrees.

Everyone has to deal with the cold, but a lot of eyes will be on Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta. You may remember Arrieta’s velocity dipped a bit last October as he struggled in Game 2 of the 2015 NLCS on a 45-degree night in a 4-1 loss to the Mets. Many believe the cold played a role in right hander’s struggles.

The Indians last played in the World Series in 1997 against the Marlins. The games in Florida were nice weather-wise, but Game 4 in Cleveland had a game-time temperature of 41, which dropped to the mid-30s throughout the contest.

But tonight, our biggest concern is rain… and for me, getting to bed at a decent time. So, the hour-earlier start time is just dandy. Tribe manager Terry Francona does mind either.

“Shoot, it just means we start an hour earlier. We can handle that,” Francona said. “I don’t care what time they tell us to play. I’m sure they have good reason. If it’s supposed to rain late, I don’t really have a reaction. I’m going to be here anyway by 10 (a.m.) So it doesn’t really matter.”

Extra underwear can’t be comfortable

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Judging by the Tweet below, Pirates third base coach Rick Sofield has had it with the Pittsburgh weather.

Tonight, his club will host the Atlanta Braves at PNC Park were temperatures are forecasted to be around 59 at first pitch and fall to the low 50s by the time the Bucs wrap up a win over the last-place, manager-firing-for-no-good-reason Braves. There’s a small chance of precipitation during the game – very small – with a slight breeze blowing in from center field.

The weather looks a little better for Thursday night with temps in the low 60s for the Bucs/Braves series finale.

Is that a little more encouraging Rick?

A Royal rain

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AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Monday night’s game in Kansas City between the Royals and Boston Red Sox was postponed by a rainstorm that refused to go away.

Rain fell throughout the day, and as game time neared, the forecast showed no signs the precipitation would cease enough to play. The game will be made up Wednesday as part of a day-night doubleheader with Game 1 beginning at 1:15 p.m. local time. Wednesday’s forecast shows a sunny day in Kansas City with the high temperature hitting around 67.

This is the Red Sox only visit with the Royals in Kansas City this season.
In case you missed it, rain didn’t stop Hanley Ramirez from getting in a workout while teammate and American League player of the week Jackie Bradley Jr. was being interviewed live on the MLB Network.

Rangers storm from behind, soak Sox

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Heaving rain, strong winds and fierce lightning stormed through Arlington, Texas, Tuesday night, delaying the game between the Rangers and Chicago White Sox for an hour and 18 minutes.

The Rangers led the first-place White Sox 2-1 when the storm interrupted the game as the third inning was set to begin. In the below video from the Dallas Morning News, you can the grounds crew scurrying to stretch the tarp over the field as rain and wind blew throughout Globe Life Park and fans sought shelter.


As for the game, the White Sox put nine runs on the board over the third and fourth innings to take a 10-5 lead. With that score, you couldn’t blame the Rangers if they did a little rain dance in hopes of nixing the game altogether.

But the home team rallied with seven runs in the eighth inning, winning 13-11.

With the rain delay and tons of scoring, the game ended four hours and 40 minutes after the first pitch was tossed.

The two teams play a 1:05 p.m. local time matinee Wednesday with only a 15 percent chance of rain and game-time temperatures hovering around 84 degrees. Nice!

Elsewhere… heavy rain got the best of the Reds and Pirates Tuesday night. A make-up game has not been announced, and the Reds said there will not be a doubleheader on Wednesday or Thursday.

Buck wouldn’t do that, would he?

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Associated Press

Buck Showalter insists he has more important things to do than dream up nefarious field tarp schemes to one-up his competition.

Hours ahead of Tuesday’s game with the Yankees at Camden Yards, Showalter’s Orioles took their cuts in batting practice and promptly left the field. Before the Yankees could get in their much-need pre-game swings, the Orioles grounds crew stretched the tarp over the infield dirt.

Yankees skipper Joe Girardi cried foul. “They hit and they’re covering the field,’’ Girardi said, according the New York Post.

In an interview with the Michael Kay Show the following day, Showalter laughed off the gamesmanship accusation and explained the reasons the field was covered.

“Basically, we got a weather report that it was going to start raining at 5 o’clock, so we started our BP, actually, early and got off the field early so they would have an opportunity,” the Orioles manager said. “And they [the Baltimore grounds crew] came up and said it was going to start raining in five minutes and they had to cover the field in order to keep the field from getting, you know, too wet to play.”

Rainy, yucky weather has plagued the Orioles the first this season, but on this Tuesday, not one noticeable drop fell from the sky. However, the tarp remained and the Yankees, who can’t seem to hit anything these and were swept in three games in Boston, were robbed of their opportunity to hit on the field.

In the seemingly lighthearted interview, Kay asked Showalter, “You didn’t dream this up to affect the Yankees?”

Still chuckling a bit, Showalter said, “Mike, come on,” and went on to say he didn’t think Girardi “insinuated anything” with is comments.

Showalter, however, seemed unhappy that the accusations had upset the Orioles’ head groundskeeper. “I know one thing. Somebody complained, because they called and our groundskeeper, who I think is the best in the business and one of the fairest going – she is really good – probably as good as I’ve ever seen… and she was upset today that someone had insinuated that,” Showalter said. “And she said, ‘why would anybody insinuate that?’ I said, ‘well, that’s the world we live in.’”

Bad weather hit the Orioles again Friday. Rain postponed the team’s series opener that night with the Oakland Athletics. The postponement was announced 30 minutes before the scheduled first pitch, and the two teams made up the game Saturday with the A’s taking an 8-4 victory. Baltimore claimed a 5-2 win in the regularly scheduled night game.

The postponement was the Orioles’ second at Camden Yards this season and third overall. A road game with the Texas Rangers in Arlington was postponed on April 17.

The Orioles have also endured 3 hours and 35 minutes worth of weather delays this season in games that have been played. On Opening Day, rain pushed back the first pitch of the season by 110 minutes. More inclement weather delayed the contest an additional 70 minutes after the completion of the second inning.

In the radio interview, Kay asked Showalter if the rain, snow and cold most affected the pitchers or the hitters.

“You know, I think you got to split it down the middle,” the manger said. “We’ve had games were the guys had no feel for the breaking ball because they couldn’t feel the ball.”

Showalter showed sympathy for the Baltimore fans as well, noting the weather’s effect on filling seats in the ballpark.

“I feel bad about the fans. You know, it’s really hurt our attendance because the weather has been so bad,” Showalter said. “We’re playing the Yankees, which are usually a good draw. Nobody will come out in it, yet we’re playing in it.”

….

Fans wanting to see the Reds and Brewers play at Great American Ball Park Sunday had to wait nearly two hours for the rain to move out and the field to be prepped before the game could begin Sunday. After the 1 hour and 55 minute delay, Milwaukee beat the home town Reds 5-4.

The Brewers have sat through a little more than four hours of weather delays in the season’s first month.