Remember 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…
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?)
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?
Sof's weather update.
— #VotePirates (@Pirates) May 18, 2016
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.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) May 16, 2016
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.
In the meantime…what do you think about our rain dance? pic.twitter.com/qCBYbkulgy
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) May 11, 2016
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.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 11, 2016
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.
“Your pitches are sucky!”
Joey was one angry 9-year-old Saturday as I grooved wiffle balls through his little strike zone. No curves. No swerves. No pitches that started 10 feet out of the zone and suddenly dived back in.
They were practically on a tee.
What sucked was Joey’s ability to hit the #$%& ball.
Every pitch I threw as rain began to pour and moms started to yell “Get inside now!” was fat and right in his wheelhouse. Yet, angry Joey could not put bat to ball. And after umpteen swings and misses in a row, he would yell at me some variation of “you suck.”
I know he’s 9, and I’m 45, but I’m not giving into this kid. I’m a competitor. So I start to throw harder.
More you sucks are hurled my way.
His mom is concerned about him being out in the rain, but she doesn’t seem to give a flying duck about the fact he’s disrespectfully yelling at his uncle, who, up until this point, only wants him to hit the ball. Send it to the moon… or least over the trampoline.
So, I keep pitching though the rain. The more Joey yells, the harder I throw. I contemplate hitting him. I’ve done it before.
Relax. It’s only a wiffle ball. The sting doesn’t last long. Ask my son.
But with everyone looking at us, I’m certain it would be obvious I beaned him on purpose. Everyone knows I have Clayton Kershaw-like control with a wiffle ball.
So with no ill intentions, I wind up and let it fly.
All I could hear was the whistling sound of the ball and then the woof from Joey’s desperate swing.
And then… “You suck, Chad,” as he slammed the bat to the ground and stormed away.
I imagine somewhere the sun was shining bright and a band was playing. (It was Panic at the Disco on my daughter’s phone.) And somewhere there were men laughing and children shouting.
But there was no joy in Joeyville. The mighty screamer had struck out!
Alex Rodriquez pushed the Yankees’ struggling offense out of a slump, if only temporarily, Sunday night as rain drenched Fenway Park.
With the Yanks in a 1-1 tie with the Boston Red Sox, Rodriguez drilled a 93-mph David Price fastball deep to center field for his fifth home run of the season. The blast gave the visitors a 3-1 lead.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 2, 2016
In the fifth, A-Rod doubled to left, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.
That hit put the Yankees ahead once again, this time by a 5-4 score.
Rodriguez, hitting just a few ticks above .200, was 2-for-4 on the rainy night.
In his post-game comments, Rodriguez credited his hot hitting partially to Manager Joe Girardi giving him a couple days off in Texas. A-Rod got both his hits while rain peppered the field. Perhaps we could suggests the slugger, who now is eight homers shy of 700, likes to hit in the rain.
Nah. That’s silly. I think the secret is in the unique way A-Rod dries his bats on rainy nights at the ballpark.
Press play on the video below and see for yourself.
.@AROD loves his bat.
He really LOVES his bat. 😂😭😂😭https://t.co/kf36UmD1sM
— 120 Sports (@120Sports) May 2, 2016
Yep! Maybe that’s his secret.
But other members of the light-hitting Yankees found their stroke – did I really need to write that? – Sunday night, banging out – this is getting ridiculous – seven runs on nine hits.
However, it was the Yankees’ pitching that threw a wet napkin on the club’s chances of avoiding a sweep to their American League East rivals. Boston won 8-7 and socked 14 hits off the Yankees’ pitching staff, including a Christian Vazquez game-winning homer in the seventh inning that, I swear, hit and damaged one Saturn’s rings.
David Ortiz said after the game, “That ****er ended up on the moon.” However, we here at The Rainout Blog world headquarters have confirmed the ball traveled much farther.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 2, 2016
Excluding A-Rod’s bat-drying antics, one of my favorite images of the ESPN Sunday Night broadcast was of reporter Buster Olney hiding from the rain underneath a large umbrella in the bottom of the third inning.
In other rain out news, the Cubs’ afternoon game with the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field Saturday was postponed by inclement weather. No make-up date has been announced.
More socks news
Paul Lukas, author of Uni-watch.com – one of my favorite sports blogs, by the way – wrote today about folks at Citi Field using their Curtis Granderson giveaway socks as gloves on a chilly, drizzly day at the ballpark.
It’s too bad you can’t swipe your phone or grab your beer while wearing those Granderson socks, eh?