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Who left Joe Vila in out in the cold?

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baseball_mitt_mud-hdr-webWhen I write my long-promised  Top 10 list of World Series weather games, the 1925 championship finale will certainly rank high on the chart.

It had almost all the makings of a fall weather classic: pounding rain, vision-obstructing fog, ballplayers’ mud-caked habiliments and thousands of rain-drenched foul-weather fans, so to speak. ‘You could cut the mirk with a cleaver,” The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., reported on the gloomy mid-October afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Game 7 also had a fire on the field, a blaze intentionally set by Forbes Field groundskeeper Jack Fogarty in an attempt to dry the uliginous infield. There’s no report, however, of fans roasting marshmallows.

This nutty game, in which the Pirates bested the Senators 9-7, also produced one irritated journalist.

Among the many World Series recap stories The Sporting News published in its Oct. 22 issue, Joe Vila held no punches in expressing his displeasure over the treatment of writers at the ballpark.

“I do not know who was directly responsible for the press accommodations at Forbes Field, but it’s enough to say that they were outrageous,” wrote Vila, who covered baseball for three decades.

“The press box, instead of being located in the grand stand, under cover, was arranged on the ground in front of the ordinary backstop. Reporters and telegraph operators, who had no redress, worked on Tuesday and Thursday in the mud and rain. They had no protection from the storm and were drenched to the skin.

From Vila’s writing, it’s as clear as mud to determine whether he was actually dodging raindrops and slogging through mud at Forbes Field or if he simply was piping up for those writers who were covering the game.

Under the sub-headline of “Press Handled Like Bleacherites,” Vila continued his salty assault, writing, “If the Pittsburgh Club had entertained the proper respect for the newspapers which spent many thousands of dollars to spread to spread the details of the World Series all over the United States and other parts of the civilized world, such uncomfortable conditions under which the writers and keymen tolled would not have existed.”

Digging through various other newspapers has not revealed, so far, any other scribes complaining about improper working conditions at the ballpark.

Ralph Davis wrote in the Pittsburgh Press that he “leaped” from his seat in the “press box at Forbes Field” at the end of the game, not because his pants were soaked, but from the sight of “Old Rube” Oldham firing the third strike past the Senators’ Goose Goslin, who was “standing there flatfooted, for the final out of the game of the world’s baseball series.”

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E5… Blame the groundskeeper

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The Sporting News photo of Jack Fogarty caring for the Forbes Field infield in 1938.

If you scroll through enough baseball newspapers articles from the early 1900s, you’ll inevitably stumble upon an anecdote or two claiming a rogue infield pebble got in the way of a bouncing routine ground ball, causing the ball to take an unexpected hop past a fielder and cost the fielding team a run or two, or maybe even a game.

Heck, Game 7 of the 1924 World Series turned in favor of the Washington Senators when Bucky Harris hit a grounder toward third in the bottom of the eighth that ricocheted off a small rock and squirted past New York Giants’ third baseman Freddie Lindstrom, allowing two Senators to score and tie the game at 3-3. Washington eventually won the series in extra innings.

I’m not sure if Lindstrom took issue with the Griffith Stadium grounds crew, but in a series of profile stories about the profession, Pirates head groundskeeper Jack Fogarty told The Sporting News in 1938 that players, even Hall of Famers, would occasionally blame their miscues on infield pebbles left behind by him and other grounds crew members.

“…Once in a while a player tries to use me for an alibi,” Fogarty said.

“Old Honus Wagner did that once in his active playing days. He used to carry around a bunch of pebbles in his uniform pocket, and if he booted or fumbled, he’d come in and toss one of those pebbles at me, as if to let everybody know I left a stone out there big enough to deflect the course of a roller.

“Other players have tried that trick, too, but it doesn’t get them anywhere. If there’s ever been a pebble half as big as a marble on the skinned part of that infield, I’ve never found it.”

Fogarty became Pittsburgh’s head groundskeeper in 1919 and was known to sometimes douse the Forbes Field infield with gasoline and set it ablaze in an attempt to dry the playing surface after a lengthy rain. Days after his death in 1995, the Pittsburgh Press described Fogarty as a man “who devoted his lifetime to the tender care of the grass at Forbes Field and a man who took great pride in his work.”

If a player complained about the smoothness of the infield, “the next morning Fogarty went to work to smooth out the rough spot that caused the player to make his complaint and he wasn’t satisfied until the player approved,” the Press reported.

“Fogarty winced when he read that a ball took a bad hop over a player’s shoulder because he felt like this was a reflection on his ability, although it never was written with that in mind. But John Fogarty was a deeply sensitive and was highly regarded in his field.”

Feeling a bit cooler today

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What a difference a week makes.

Tonight, when the Dodgers and Astros run on to the field for Game 6 of the World Series, temperatures at the ballpark are expected to be around 67 degrees and stay in the high to mid-60s throughout the game, even if the contest flows deep into the night as Game 5 did in Houston two nights ago.

That’s a 36-degree difference from the series opener Oct. 24, when first pitch temps rose to 103 on the thermometer, establishing a new record for the warmest game in the history of the Fall Classic.

Will the temperature change make a difference in the action on the field? Dodgers’ third baseman Justin Turner thinks so.

“I will say that you might see a little bit different game here tomorrow night, a little bit different weather,” Turner said Monday. “It’s going to be a lot cooler here than it was for the first two games, and it might be a different ballgame than you’ve seen in the first five games.”

Houston leads the series, 3-2, and can clinch its first World Series title with a win tonight. Justin Verlander starts for the ‘Stros, while Rich Hill takes the mound for L.A.

If the Dodgers win tonight and force a Game 7 Wednesday night in their ballpark, you can expect more of the same weather-wise.

Fahrenheit 103

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There’s not much time for writing The Rainout Blog these days – maybe soon – but I did want to make a quick post to 1) Note how hot it was in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night, and 2) Bump the previous post from the top spot. No one wants to see a black and white photo from the 1918 at the top of the blog, right?

The game-time temperature was 103 degrees when Clayton Kershaw threw the Fall Classic’s first pitch at about 5:08 p.m. L.A. time, and it’s going to be toasty again tonight for Game 2. I wish I had more time to write about Kershaw’s thoughts on pitching in such extreme temps or that Justin Turner thinks his game-deciding homer would not have left the park on a cooler evening. Maybe I’ll get to all of that at a later time.

Enjoy the Series everyone. I’m hoping it goes seven games, but I’m picking the Dodgers in 6.

Remember when fans at the Polo Grounds nearly missed the 1918 solar eclipse?

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It’s here! The day when thousands of people have crunched together within a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina to view, in totality, a solar eclipse.

I’m assuming you all have your official eclipse glasses. Got your cameras ready? Have a Major League Baseball doubleheader to attend that may go into extra innings and spoil your eclipse-watching fun?

OK, there are no MLB double dips or even afternoon games scheduled for today, but 99 years ago, on June 8, 1918, fans at New York’s Polo Grounds watching their Giants play the St. Louis Cardinals nearly had their eclipse peeping plans darkened because the two teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after nine innings and into a couple of extra frames.

The Giants easily won the first game that afternoon. However, in the second contest, neither team could break a 2-2 tie within the regulation nine innings.

The New York Times reported the next day:

“The Giants separated the Cardinals from the first game of a bargain-day bill at the Polo Grounds yesterday by a count of 8-1, but in the other portion of soiree the St. Louis lads stuck like glue and almost kept a crowd of 25,000 from seeing the eclipse of the sun by prolonging the agony of beating the Giants for eleven long innings, when they administered the dose of defeat by a score of 4 to 2.”

New Yorkers saw “a little less than three-quarters of the sun’s surface being obscured,” the Times reported, but the paper also noted that conditions were perfect for viewing in the city where “smoked glasses and green eye-shades were at a premium.”

The eclipse, the last before today to travel a path across the United States, hit New York City at 6:23 p.m., the paper said, and reached “the maximum of obstruction” at 7:20. At that point, hundreds of people had gathered in Times Square, on rooftops and other premium vantage points to enjoy the spectacle.

Back at the Polo Grounds, fans were rooting for their Giants to sweep the doubleheader, but also for a quick exit from the ballpark to join those already in place for the dramatic solar event.

The Saturday afternoon at the Polo Grounds was a doozy. It featured a hidden-ball trick – however, the umpire ruled a dead ball and disallowed the play – Giants’ Manager John McGraw getting tossed out a game, a spectator throwing a glass bottle from the upper deck and toward the umpire – it didn’t come close, the Times reported – and a foul ball off the bat of New York center fielder Benny Kauff smashing a fan’s straw hat. (I bet that fan was seeing stars way before the eclipse.)

The Cardinals created scoring chances in the ninth and 10th innings of game two, but those opportunities quickly faded.

St. Louis threatened again in the 11th inning, leading off with a pair of singles from Red Smyth and Marty Kavanagh. Cardinals’ catcher Frank Snyder then swatted a high fly ball to right field, where, as the Times wrote, “Ross Young got the ball and the eclipse of the sun all mixed up. He got under the ball and grabbed it all right enough, but then stumbled and fell, spilling the ball so disastrously that Smyth and Kavanagh both romped home with the victory.”

McGraw argued with Umpire William “Lord” Byron that Young had held the ball long enough to record the out. In doing so, “the old McGraw-Byron feud was ripped wide open and Byron felt quite natural when he folded his arms, struck a Napoleonic attitude, and waved McGraw into the outer darkness.”

This Week in Baseball Weather – Nationals Edition

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There he was, foot skating across the base, knee grossly folding in the wrong direction, body somersaulting through the misty late night air – hair still looking glorious – and then crashing in pain onto the infield dirt.

Man, it looked awful. It looked like the end.

Just like Adam Eaton months earlier, Bryce Harper’s mishap at first base would, it seemed in the moment, put the Washington Nationals’ star slugger out for the season, further depleting a team that has so many weapons already on the shelf.

“Nationals Park is in a total hush,” Nats radio guy Dave Jageler said as trainers rushed out to Harper.

But the sun did rise the morning after that wet night in the District. An MRI revealed no structural damage, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo assured us it was only a deep bone bruise on Harp’s left knee.

Nats fans exhaled.

“Thank you, Lord, that Bryce Harper did not shred any ligaments,” Grant Paulsen said on his D.C. sports radio show Monday morning.

The news that Harper was being placed on the 10-day disabled list, with a return projected sometime before the playoffs, was like a total solar eclipse happening on your birthday, which also happens to fall on Thanksgiving Day.

This near tragedy, however, was yet another soggy side note to what otherwise has been a season as bright as the rainbow emblazoned on the team’s new Skittles-themed tarp that had covered the field for three hours before the Harper’s calamity.

As I write, the Nationals stand 14 games ahead of the Miami Marlins in the National League East. Harper is having another MVP season. Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman are fueling a high-powered offense.

They’ve had their fair share of injuries (see: Eaton, Turner, Werth, Strasburg, Glover, Taylor, Drew, Ross and so on) but guys named Difo, Sanchez and Goodwin have surprisingly kept the team moving forward. Not treading water, but building upon the division lead.

And Rizzo’s annual trade deadline wizardry has made the bullpen great (maybe) again.
But when it comes to dealing with rainy days, the Nats play the game like the 1886 version of the Washington ball club.

When it rains, and even when it only threatens to rain but doesn’t, the Nats have issues. Criticism has been plentiful, from fans, media, old clown play-by-play announcers of a division rival… and even from Washington players. Gio Gonzalez let his frustration show when the team delayed a game start for hours even though it barely sprinkled.

And Harper, the day after his slip and spill, took a slight shot at the decision to play Saturday night following a 3-hour delay and rain still drumming the field.

“I don’t like wet bases,” he said between games of a day-night doubleheader Sunday with the San Francisco Giants.

Harper thought about Eaton, he said, while he was rolling on the ground, clutching his knee, giving us all heart attacks.

“Then I thought to myself, it’s 10 o’clock at night and we’re playing the game in the rain,” he recalled. “So, I was really upset about that as well. But you know, it’s just a freak accident, a freak situation.”

True, but was it avoidable?

Scott Boras, Harper’s agent, is asking Major League Baseball what it can do to ensure the safety of its players when rain, falling light enough to continue play, is turning the base bags into a slip and slide.

“In this instance with Bryce’s injury, you step on a base and you cannot have it be that slick and it obviously was caused by precipitation and inclement weather. The safeguards are so simple and immediate,” Boras said.

“You can certainly have people, the umpire checking the bag, even pitch-by-pitch. You can have the grounds crew, certainly, called in, or you can have it done between each field exchange by the teams. So, there’s a number of things that aren’t done that could be done rather simply.”

In another interview earlier in the week, Boras made comparisons to the NBA, where action is quickly stopped to wipe up sweat, or whatever, from the court.

Is that a practical solution? Should it be a job for the umpires to periodically wipe off the bases? Every few pitches? How often, I guess, depends on how steadily the rain is falling.
Since Harper’s injury, much discussion has been focused on improving base technology, giving the bag more traction as runners make contact.

“When you have an elite athlete touching in the very middle of the bag and just sliding across, it’s like ice on cement,” Boras said. “So, it’s really something we need more clarification and standards and study to ensure player safety.”

Maybe Boras is on to something. If there’s a base technology that can be used that would allow the bag remain relatively dry throughout a steady rain and not cause players to slip like they were in the shower, as Harper said he felt Saturday night, then the simple logistics of replacing bases is well worth it to save a player’s health, his season and potentially his career.

San Francisco Giants v Washington Nationals

Are the Nationals the baseball weather story of the year?
Each year, I think about writing a post listing the top 10 baseball weather stories of the year. I haven’t done it yet, but maybe this is the year. Last year’s top story developed during the final game of the season, the World Series Game 7 rain delay that allowed the Cubs to regroup and capture the team’s first title in 108 years. Hands down, that was the baseball weather story of the year.

Not nearly as significant and captivating is this year’s top story… so far: the Nationals struggles with weather delays. Are the Nats really this bad at dealing with the weather, or have they simply had a run of bad luck this year?

I’d like to think it’s the latter. However, after tracking the events of Friday night, it’s difficult to not believe the team just can’t get its stuff together.

After a long rain delay of the series opener with the San Francisco Giants that night, the game was finally called and postponed more than two hours after the scheduled start. Players were seen leaving the ballpark. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy was called in to chat with media around 9:15 p.m., according to the Washington Post. There was only one problem: Someone forgot to tell the fans at the ballpark until about 30 minutes later.

Oops!

Rain Delay Theater… on Twitter
During Friday night’s lengthy rain delay, Nationals TV play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter answered questions on Twitter. Of course, I had to jump in with a weather-related question, but nothing hard-hitting about the Nats’ weather problems. On short notice, the best I question I could think of was: What’s your most memorable rain delay moment?
Yeah, I know. I could have done better. But to my surprise, Carpenter quickly answered with this witty gem:

Picturesque PNC Park

The week’s post can’t be all about the Nats, so to close, let’s go out the PNC Park where, rain or shine, it’s always postcard-perfect. The Pirates posted this photo on Twitter Thursday night to announce the team’s game with the Cardinals would be briefly delayed by rain.

And later, this:

You need Suzyn Waldman’s weather app

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Associated Press

The Yankees, Tigers and everyone hanging around Yankee Stadium Wednesday afternoon waited through a remarkable 4 hours and 37 minutes in rain weather delays.

To many, including the Yanks radio broadcast crew – I love those two – the first 90 minutes were a complete waste of time.

An “immediate threat of inclement weather,” according to the Yankees on Twitter, forced officials to delay the series finale. However, according to many folks on radio and social media, only a drizzle peppered the ballpark.


Michael Kay, the Yankees TV play-by-play guy on the YES Network said, “It rained a little bit, but [it was] certainly not a rain to where you could not play the game.”

Masahiro Tanaka tossed out the first pitch around 2:30 p.m., Bronx time.

While we waited, I tuned into the Yankees flagship station, WFAN, for Rain Delay Theater and got, mixed in with some Mets talk, a lively discussion about whether or not any rain fell at Yankee Stadium.

Going into the game broadcast, Yankees radio color commentator Suzyn Waldman said there were a few sprinkles and encouraged MLB officials to use the same weather app she uses. “My app told the right thing,” she said.

Moments later, play-by-play man John Sterling burst on the air saying, “We have just wasted an hour and a half doing nothing.”

You tell ‘em, John!

It didn’t end there. In the eighth inning, heavy rain began to pelt the ballpark.

“There is a thunderclap,” Waldman said. “NOW, it’s raining. They’re going to bring out the tarp.”

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Sterling jumped in with a little biting sarcasm aimed at Major League Baseball officials, who decided to delay the start of the game rather than play through the early afternoon drizzle.

“Well, it certainly worked out very well. We waited an hour and a half at the beginning of the game when it barely rained,” Sterling said. “Well, now it’s raining. So, there’re going to cover the field, and we will sit here and schmooze and say nothing and then we’ll throw it back to the station.”

Waldman quickly suggested she could tell listeners about games scheduled around the league. But first…

“Now, it is really raining,” she said, interrupting herself. “Wow! This is like the skies opened up. If they had listened to my app – Major League Baseball – we would be done and on our way to Cleveland.”

OK, back to those scores. While reporting details of the Blue Jays vs. White Sox matinee game, Waldman again stopped to comment on the rain pelting the park. “Boy, now this is rain. This is rain!”

Refocusing, she went to tell us about Kansas City playing at Baltimore later that night and then “Cleveland at Boston at 7 [o’clock],” she said. “By the way, Boston, this rain is coming to you. It should get there around 7 [o’clock].”

Man she’s good!

Boston later was hit with about three inches of rain and the Red Sox and Indians, after a lengthy delay, were postponed.

Back comes Sterling, and this, I think, was my favorite part of the conversation.

“You know what it looks like right now?” he asked. “It looks like ‘The Rains of Ranchipur.’” (I had to look that up) “I mean IT IS POURING. This is a monsoon. I wish we had that hour and half back.”

Meanwhile, in Boston

The aforementioned rained-out Red Sox vs. Indians game has been rescheduled for Aug. 14 at Fenway Park. The teams waited on the rain for about two hours before the postponement was announced. Here’s how some of the Red Sox players spent their idle time.

Catching heat
Clouds dropped rain and emptied Camden Yards for a brief moment Wednesday night, causing a 35-minute delay in the third.

Before the rain, the Orioles TV play-by-play announcer Jim Hunter talked about the high temperatures the O’s have played in recently, and specifically, how skipper Buck Showalter has managed his catchers through the summer heat.

“Caleb and [Welington] Castillo, there not exactly alternating, but because it’s been so hot, Buck Showalter is taking advantage of two catchers who right now are both red hot. So, neither of them wares down. They’re each getting quite a bit of playing time,” Hunter said as Joseph, at the plate, took ball two from Royals pitcher Jason Vargas.

“Caleb saw Castillo catch on Sunday in that oppressive heat in Texas,” Hunter continued, referring to the 99, 92 and 92-degree start-time temperatures the O’s played through in a three-game weekend series with the Rangers.

“Caleb caught Monday. Castillo caught last night. Caleb’s in there tonight. So, there’re both staying fresh and they’re both playing very well,” Hunter said.

Seconds later, the lefty Joseph showed his freshness as he slapped a Vargas fastball just over the left field wall for a two-run home run that gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead. Baltimore went on to win 6-0.

The Orioles suffered through two rain delays the following night, Thursday, while hosting the Tigers in Camden Yards. Weather pushed back the start of the game by 43 minutes. Once the game began, Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton smacked homers in the top of the first. But then more rain, along with lightning, rolled in, stopping the contest, this time for 59 minutes.

Earlier in Chicago on Thursday, rain pressed pause on the Cubs and Diamondbacks three times. The first pitch was pushed back 90 minutes. Another storm passed over Wrigley Field in the top of the second, causing a 35-minute play stoppage.

Once players were back on the field, a Cubs radio broadcaster – I’m not sure who, but it was not Pat Hughes – described the second storm. “It just really got dark. Fog rolled in and it just cut lose raining… And the skies opened up and it poured in buckets here at Wrigley.”

And during that second delay, there was a bullpen dance off.

More weather drama ensued in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied 8-8.

After the skies cleared Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run, his third homer of the game, to give the Diamondbacks the lead for good and a 10-8 victory. The three rain delays totaled 2 hours and 35 minutes.

We’re not done with Hump Day
Before the Rangers thumped Seattle 5-1 Wednesday night, the two squads sat through a 40-minute rain delay at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The halt in action came in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs.

“Caleb caught Monday. Castillo caught last night. Caleb’s in there tonight. So, there’re both staying fresh and they’re both playing very well,” Hunter said.

Seconds later, the lefty Joseph showed his freshness as he slapped a Vargas fastball just over the left field wall for a two-run home run that gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead. Baltimore went on to win 6-0.

On Tuesday in Miami
There was no delay under the retractable roof at Marlins Park Tuesday – Oh, wait. That’s not always a given – but heavy rains flooded the Miami area that day. Opening the Washington Nationals MASN TV broadcast that night was Dave Jageler, who alluded to the weather issues as he talked over video of fans walking to the ballpark.

“For Marlins Park in Miami, it’s better served to arrive here by boat or by ark. I don’t know how these fans got here; the streets of Miami are flooded today thanks to a tropical depression,” said Jagelar, filling in for Bob Carpenter on TV play-by-play duties.

Heavy afternoon thunderstorms dropped about six inches of rain on Miami Tuesday, according to news reports.

About last week…

Lightning, thunder halts Phillies, Brewers

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Before the Brewers and Phillies could get going on July 22, a strong thunderstorm rolled into Philadelphia and over Citizens Bank Bark. Thunder, lightning and heavy rain delayed the start of the contest for 26 minutes.

Milwaukee edged the Phillies 9-8.

More inclement weather followed Monday night at the Philadelphia ballpark. Rain paused the game – and Phillies fans’ misery – for an hour and 52 minutes beginning in the top of the fourth inning. Those among the reported 17,567 in attendance who hung around witnessed the Astros spank the Phillies 13-4.

What’s up, Buck?
Judging from Buck Showalter’s post-game comments following the Orioles’ 9-7 win over Houston on July 23, the Baltimore skipper was pressured to move the game along quickly in the late innings before rain was scheduled to arrive. (Seriously, who pressures Buck Showalter?)

Turns out, there was no delay, and I’m not sure rain ever fell on Camden Yards while the game was being played or soon thereafter, as Showalter alludes to, I think, in the press conference.

Reporters asked Showalter if he felt pressed to finish the game before the impending rain.

Pressure “is when they come in and say it’s going to storm like heck, forever, at 5 o’clock,” he said.

So, yes, I guess so.

Showalter then asked someone in the room what time the game ended. There was an inaudible response. According to the box score, the contest ended a few minutes past 5 p.m.

Showalter then asked “is it raining now?” like he knew the answer was no.

He then looked around, shook his head and pierced his lips together like he was back dealing with Mike Rizzo in Washington.

Buck just can’t catch a break when rain is threatening.

Speaking of which…

This time, Nats make quick call on weather postponement
With a little help from Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals made a speedy decision to postpone their series opener with the Colorado Rockies on Friday, July 22, reported The Washington Post.

If you’ve been following along, you know the Nats’ decisions on weather delays have been about as accurate as their bullpen this year.

The Post’s Chelsea Janes explains:

“The timing of Friday’s decision could not have been more different from the timing of the Nationals’ last rain delay decision — a much-criticized move earlier this month when a game was called three hours after the scheduled first pitch following only a passing drizzle. Because of schedule concerns, the Commissioner’s office made the decision with the help of Nationals staff. Ultimately, the decision fell to the league, which made it in accordance with a bleak forecast that called for five inches of rain in some places. Flash flood warnings blared over Dusty Baker’s pregame media session.”

Friday’s postponed game was rescheduled for 7:05 p.m. the following Sunday, creating a day-night doubleheader for the clubs. The Rockies were off Monday, but the Nats had to fly overnight to Miami following the second game for a Monday night date with the Marlins.

Perhaps exhausted from the quick turnaround, the Nationals’ offense managed only three hits. That also was the night Gio Gonzalez pitched a gem, taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning before allowing a lead-off single to Dee Gordon.

Washington’s bullpen held strong, and the Nats won, 1-0.

Further delays

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St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong graciously signed autographs for a few soggy fans on Thursday night, July 27, as they waited out a rain shower that delayed the start of the game by 62 minutes. The visiting Arizona Diamondbacks won 4-0 behind a grand slam from J.D. Martinez.

Lee May’s cold blast in Detroit
1975-TRADED-LEE-MAY.jpgFormer major leaguer Lee May died of heart disease on Saturday, July 30, and the next day, a Baltimore Sun article relayed a story from Lee’s former teammate, Jim Palmer, about Opening Day in 1975 when the slugger hit a three-run home run on a near freezing evening at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Lee’s blast gave Palmer a comfortable lead and Baltimore went on to win 10-0.

“It got a lot warmer when ‘Mo’ hit that ball into the upper deck. I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if we hadn’t had players like that,” Palmer said, subtly reminding us that he is enshrined in Cooperstown.

The game’s box score does not show the game-time temperature, but does indicate the game was played at night. A look at Detroit weather history shows that temperatures dipped to 33 degrees that night with a high of only 46 during the day.

And now, the history portion of This Week in Baseball Weather
Louis-K-Lou-Finney_artLou Finney had a rough go of things to begin the 1937 baseball campaign. While with his team for spring training in Mexico, the Philadelphia Athletics’ outfielder – sometimes first baseman – became sick. Lingering effects from the illness, along with a chronic sinus infection and handful of other ailments, forced Finney in and out of the A’s lineup throughout the season.

However, it was a wet July day in Detroit, playing in the mud and rain, that forced Finney off the field for much of the remainder of the season.

The Sporting News reported details in its July 29, 1937 issue:

“AT DETROIT – The Tigers defeated the Athletics, 12-9, in the first game of a scheduled twin bill, which was played through intermittent rain and finally called with one out in the last half of the sixth inning, because of the muddy condition at Navin Field. A heavy downpour held up the contest for 52 minutes after one and two-thirds innings had been played, then activity was resumed between the showers, only to be stopped when the players where no longer able to keep their footing on the slippery field. After Second Baseman Russell Peters of the A’s had poled a four bagger with a mate on base to make the score nine-all in the sixth, Gerald Walker singled Charley Gehringer home with the winning run in the Detroit half of the inning. Then both Hank Greenberg and Walker counted when George Turbeville, the third Mack hurler, twice pitched the slippery ball past catcher Earle Brucker. Walker, Peter Fox, Clif Bolton and Greenberg also connected for the circuit, Hank’s drive being his twenty-third of the season. George Gill, who relieved Boots Poffenberger in the fourth, received credit for his fourth win. The second game was postponed. Attendance totaled 23,000 spectators.”

Two weeks later, James C. Isaminger of The Sporting News reported that Finney had “suffered a relapse” during the contest and Philadelphia manager “Connie Mack, fearing about his [Finney’s] health, has decided not to use him any more this season, except in emergencies and double-headers.”

Isaminger wrote that Finney “caught a cold in Mexico and never fully recovered.”

In his SABR Bio Project story on Finney (recommended reading), Doug Skipper writes that Mack gave Finney permission to leave the team with 10 games to go in the season and return to Alabama for surgery on his sinuses. Skipper conveys that Finney “had a hernia repaired, had the inflamed appendix that had bothered him for months extracted, and had his tonsils removed.”

There you have it, two weeks’ worth of baseball weather stories, plus a trip back to 1937. I can guarantee posts in subsequent weeks will not be as lengthy… probably.