Month: October 2015

Against the wind

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CitiField01

The wind at Citi Field Friday night did more than make women swoon from the sight of Noah Syndergaard’s long blond locks blowing from underneath his blue Mets cap. (I read a lot about that on Twitter.)

Wind, on a single swing, may have preserved the game for the Mets, who held 5-3 lead over the Royals in the top of the sixth inning in Game 3 of the World Series.

Alex Rios stood at the plate with a 3-2 count and drove the 100th pitch of the night from Syndergaard down the left field line. They Royals had runners on first and second as the ball glided toward left field.

Wind pushed and pushed on the ball until gravity brought it down a few feet to the foul side of the white base line.

“You see the effect of the wind right there. That ball took off,” Fox analyst Harold Reynolds said. “That ball started to be fair, and I thought it was going to be an easy out for (Mets’ left fielder Michael) Conforto. It (the ball) just continued to run to the corner.”

Reynolds, being at the ballpark, had a better view than I did from my spot on the man cave sofa. However, it looked to me that if the ball had landed fair, Conforto, unless he made a Web Gems-worth diving catch, would not have caught up to the ball.

A fair ball would have meant at least one run for the Royals, and maybe two to tie.

How much would that have affected the game? It’s hard to say. And, of course, there were countless other moments in the game that could have been affected by the wind. But at the time, this play seemed like a potential turning point.

It doesn’t mean anything now. The Mets added four runs in the bottom half of the inning and went on to win 9-3, but it was a perfect example how wind – it was 14 mph with gusts up to 25 mph – can influence a baseball game by an inch here and an inch there.

Let’s all root for helicopters

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mlb_g_kauffmants_576As I’m writing this, it’s sunny in Kansas City.

I’m not there, but I’m relying on Accuweather.com

Accuweather also tells me there’s a darn good chance sun will give way to rain throughout the day Tuesday, and there’s about a 70 percent chance of more rain that night just as the first pitch is about to be tossed for Game 1 of the World Series between the homestanding Royals and New York Mets.

As of now – you know how weather forecasts can change within minutes – there’s a 60 percent chance of rain falling on Kauffman Stadium the next couple of hours after the game begins. Chances of rain decrease of the night turns into morning.

If Game 1 is postponed, it will be played Wednesday night – that’s weather permitting, of course. Game 2 will be Thursday and MLB will ditch the travel day off and play the third game Friday night in New York.

If there’s a lot of rain tomorrow, but there’s a chance to play, I’m rooting for one of those scenarios in which helicopters are brought in to hover of Kauffman Stadium in an attempt to dry the field.

Does that really work?

Where does the time go?

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Sunday’s NFL action kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Eastern with the Buffalo Bills playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since the NFL first played a regular season game there. Remember that one? It was a mud bath between the Giants and Dolphins in which the G-Men won 13-10 and Eli Manning passed for only 59 yards. We had you covered over on the old Rainout Blog site.

Nothing of the like is forecasted for Sunday’s game. It’ll be most cloudy with a high of 57, but, as of now, no chance of rain.

The rest of the NFL schedule isn’t looking too shabby either:

Buccaneers at Redskins: High 64/Overcast

Falcons at Titans: 74/Light rain

Saints at Colts: Dome

Vikings at Lions: Dome

Steelers at Chiefs: 61/Clear

Browns at Rams: Dome

Texans at Dolphins: 84/Partly cloudy

Jets at Patriots: 61/Overcast

Raiders at Chargers: 83/Partly cloudy

Cowboys at Giants: 62/Overcast

Sunday Night
Eagles at Panthers: 65/Overcast

Monday Night
Ravens at Cardinals: Dome

Phil Collins is the opposite of the fat lady

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New York Post
Photo: New York Post

I hate to say it…

To my 9-year-old son who’s just learning about the ebbs and flows of following a professional baseball team.

To all of you fans of Chicago’s lovable losers.

But here goes…

It’s over, Cubs fans. It’s over.

I know it. You know it. Marty McFly knows it.

Despite winning 97 games this season – who’d a thunk it? Despite Jake Arrieta’s masterful mound performances. Despite the six home-runs to bury your more successful nemesis from St. Louis in the NLDS game at Wrigley. Despite the good feeling you had – we all had – about your team, 2015 is not the year you break the Curse of the billy goat and – good golly this is ridiculous – forgive Steve Bartman.

Tonight the Cubbies face elimination from the NLDS and this magical season. The Mets –  yep, the Mighty Mets of Gotham with the Dark Knight and Thor and whatever super hero nickname you want to assign to Jacob deGrom and Daniel Murphy – are poised to take the series in only four games. And they’re making it look easy.

The situation is dire for the Cubs.

In trying to grasp some hope, you can think back to 2004 when the Boston Red Sox, who in a similar situation of trailing three games to zero to the Yankees in the ALCS – roared back to win the next four games and ultimately the World Series, breaking their 86-year curse supposedly put on by Babe Ruth.

(With the Babe, I’m guessing there was a woman who gave him the idea. George always had a woman involved, and I don’t think he could have thought of cursing the Sox on his own. Am I right?)

Just win the next one, we’ve heard Cubs Manager Joe Maddon say after each defeat. “We need to put together several one-game winning streaks,” Maddon repeated after Monday night’s Game 3 loss.

Now, the Cubs have to win the next one, which is tonight in Wrigley, or there is no next one. Not until spring training in March. And then, who cares?

I want the Cubs to win tonight to, if nothing else, keep the dream alive for excitable Cubs fans, like my son, and the series going for one more day. Heck, if the Mets win and the Royals are victorious in the Junior Circuit championship today, we’ll have to go five days without a game until baseball resumes with the World Series next Tuesday.

And, of course, there’s one more way the series can extend to another day: Yep, a rainout.

It looks like there’s a small chance of delaying game 4 until Thursday. The forecast is calling for a 50 percent chance of showers in Chicago when the first pitch is thrown tonight and a 35 percent chance through midnight.

Midnight could be interesting for Cubs fans tonight. When it strikes, will their team have survived to play another day or will their Cinderella season turn into a giant pumpkin?

Or, will the game be called because of rain?

Either way, as the great Phil Collins used to sing: “Give me just one more night.”

Mind games

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Memorial Stadium
Memorial Stadium

At my very first Major League Baseball game, way back in 1987 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, I, a then-16-year old Yankees fan from rural Virginia, watched Willie Randolph send a ball screaming over the right field wall.

“Get out of here,” I urged the ball, in my mind, as I stood in enemy territory wearing a navy blue T-shirt with Yankees interlocking NY on the chest.

That old ballpark had no chance of holding Willie’s mighty blast.

There I sat, ecstatic, just beyond the left field foul pole, amidst about 26,000-plus Orioles’ fans, three of whom were cursing and spilling beer on my parents and me from the next seat back. Memorial Stadium wasn’t exactly a green cathedral to my Dad, a Baptist minister. It was more a deep shade of blue.

But let’s get back to the home run.

I’ve been talking about Willie’s home run for years to anyone and everyone who would listen.

Recently, after a little digging into my baseball fandom past, I began hoping no one had ever been listening because… well, it didn’t happen.

Nope. At least not the way I remembered.

Willie Randolph did not hit a home run in the Yankees 7-3 win over the Orioles that day, June 22, 1987. It was Claudell Washington, his fourth of the season, off O’s ace Mike Boddicker.

Willie had hit a double in that game.

Somewhere in memory over the last 28 years, my mind confused Willie for Claudell.

It happens.

I was reminded of my confusion last week when I got around to reading David Simon’s Sports Illustrated article about misremembering a home run hit by his childhood hero, former Washington Senator Mike Epstein.

Simon, creator of the HBO series The Wire, writes about his memory of Epstein launching a home run into the right field seats – same as Willie’s, I mean, Claudel’s shot, at RFK Stadium – about 40 miles from my misremembrance – on Opening Day in 1971. Years later, when Simon met his boyhood idol, Epstein corrected Simon’s memory.

“Never happened,” Epstein told Simon over the phone.

You know what would have been just terrific? If Willie Randolph could have personally corrected me. Sadly, I learned of my memory failure through a box score one day while sitting in my office.

No cool story, bro, to write for SI.

Anyway…

The article is applicable to The Rainout Blog only because of a paragraph in Simon’s story about bringing Epstein to Nationals Park, where Epstein was to be recognized. The two waited and waited through a long rain delay only to have the ceremony nixed and the game postponed to the next day.

From Sports Illustrated:

“God,” Epstein said to me, staring at the infield tarp, “is really angry at you.”

It’s an hour past the game’s scheduled start, and Epstein, having done all his interviews for local radio and pregame broadcasts, stands with a team escort at his side. In the escort’s hand are a Nationals jersey with Epstein’s name and number 6 adorning it, and a red ballcap with NATIONALS spelled out phonetically in Hebrew letters. But the rain is unrelenting, and there will be no pregame honorifics for Epstein or anyone else. In the end, a little after 9 p.m., this Monday game between the Nats and the Orioles – yes, my plan was to exorcise the demons from both franchises at once – is called for weather. It will be rescheduled as part of a Thursday doubleheader, a day which will find Epstein back in Colorado.

Windy City Bombers

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USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The Cubbies put on a sensational display of power Monday night, slamming six home runs to take Game 3, 8-6, and ultimately a 2-1 NLDS lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was a windy night at Wrigley Field, and it looks to be the same for tonight’s Game 4. The forecast for the late afternoon contest calls for temperatures to be in the low 60s and winds at about 10 mph, blowing out toward right field.

Take a look at the Wrigley Field street cam and you can see how wind is moving the flags attached to the front of the ballpark.

So, with the wind blowing baseballs around again tonight, how many dingers can the Cubs hit in Game 4? Or, will it be the Cardinals’ turn to pepper the Wrigley Field seats?

Or both?

Both would be fun.