Rain

Mariners luckier than Marlins as surprise shower invades Seattle ballpark

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DeeGordonMarlins.jpgMitch Haniger’s wild game-winning home run in Seattle last week – as the roof was closing and rain was falling in the ninth inning – reminded me of a contest three years ago when the Miami Marlins had a similar weather situation at their relatively new ballpark.

The Marlins, however, weren’t as fortunate as the Mariners. A sudden pop-up spring shower on Opening Day 2015 in Miami sent fans scrambling and forced a brief rain delay in the bottom of the first inning, an embarrassing situation for a ball club with a retractable roof and a tarp tucked away somewhere in the nether regions of Marlins Park.

I wrote about the game for the Spring edition of the SABR Research Journal.

For the article, I interviewed then Marlins President David Samson, who detailed how the Marlins made decisions about when to close the roof. Spoiler alert: They used phone weather apps, something Meteorologist John Morales told me he is not a fan of, for good reason.

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Swinging in the rain

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Seattle Times

If Mike Trout is the king of California, baby, then Mitch Haniger is king of the rain.

King of the rain-drenched walk-off home run, that is.

As a steady drizzle fell and the Safeco Field retractable roof slowly chugged across the top of the ballpark, Haniger clubbed a two-run home run Wednesday over the left field fence to give the red-hot Mariners an 8-6 come-from-behind win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The homer completed a three-game sweep for Seattle over the Angels, a club they are battling against for the lead in the American League West.

The Mariners grabbed a 4-1 advantage early in the afternoon contest, but fell behind 6-4. Trailing 6-5 in the eighth, Seattle’s Ryon Healy smacked a pitch into the upper deck to tie the game at 6-6. Statcast measured the home run at 441 feet.

In the ninth, Juan Segura singled to center as rain began to patter the ballpark.

The Safeco roof takes about 10-20 minutes to close, depending on wind and other weather conditions. The sudden Seattle shower left some spectators popping umbrellas or clumsily donning ponchos – Is there any other way? – and it further decorated the dramatic stage for Haniger’s heroics.

He took the first pitch he saw from Angels’ hurler Oliver Drake for a ball, but then lined the next, an 84 mph splitter, through the rain drops and into a crowd of joyful Mariners fans, who were jumping with their hands high in the air in the left field seats.

Haniger quickly rounded the bases and was mobbed and doused with an unidentified clear liquid as he crossed home plate.

It was the newly crowned rain king’s 16th home run of the season.

Is Aaron Boone becoming an amateur meteorologist?

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There’s a lot to learn for a Major League Baseball rookie manager.

Aaron Boone can confirm.

When he took over as Yankees manager, Boone probably didn’t think reading weather reports would be a huge priority.

But storms and rain have played an enormous role in the Yankees schedule this season, particularly over the last few weeks. The Bronx Bombers were rained out in Baltimore on Sunday and Thursday, getting in only two games against the Orioles in what was scheduled to be a four-game series. The Orioles have had four home weather postponements this season.

Those Thursday and Sunday postponed games will be made up July 9 and Aug. 25, respectively.

The Yanks and O’s almost didn’t make it to the field Saturday. The forecast was bleak. Rain and lightning at Camden Yards forced a 1-hour and 44-minute delay. The nasty weather cleared enough, however, for the game to go on.

The Yankees scored an 8-5 win.

The Sunday game was the Yankees’ seventh weather postponement of the season. Plus, they had a rain-shorted game in Washington May 14 that was suspended in the top of the sixth inning. The Yankees and Nationals were washed out the next day, too.

Two mid-April weather cancellations in Detroit are affecting this week’s Yankees schedule. They’ll play a doubleheader in the Motor City today to make up for Saturday Sunday games that were rained out April 14 and 15.

When Boone checks today’s weather report for Detroit, he’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief. The forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies throughout the day and evening. First pitch for game one is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, 7:10 p.m. for game two.

“This seems wild,” Boone said after Sunday’s rainout in Baltimore. “I’ve never looked at weather reports and radar so much in my life. I’m not getting any better at reading them, either.”

UPDATE: Man, it’s a beautiful day for baseball in Detroit. Greg Bird just hit a solo home run that would have hit and burst a cloud had there been one in the sky.

Is it the weather? Is it New York? Whatever the reason for his struggles, Giancarlo needs to hit the road

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Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Getty Images

I have four words for Giancarlo Stanton.

Get out of town!

What else can you say to a guy who looks like he is wearing a blindfold and swinging at an atom?

Have you seen what Stanton has done in Pinstripes? He’s a mess at the plate.

On Sunday, the Yankees new slugger – can we call him slugger if his bat rarely touches the ball? – went 0-for-7 and struck out five times in one game. Five bleepin’ times!

There’s a name for striking out five times in a game: Platinum Sombrero. Yankee fans may have other names for it. Use your imagination.

Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time Stanton has achieved platinum status this season. And look at the calendar, it’s only April 9. He fanned five times during his Yankee Stadium debut less than a week ago. Fans booed him mercifully. He explained it as a bad day at the ballpark. He hit a home run the next day, but guess what: He also struck out three times.

After Sunday’s performance, a game in which his Bronx Bombers jumped out to a 5-0 first inning lead on Baltimore but were unable to hold, Stanton summed up his plate futility as a “bad week.”

After Aaron Judge hit into a double play that all but killed the last-gasp rally, the Yankees could have used one good hit from Stanton is his last plate appearance Sunday. A single would have sufficed. It could have tied the game.

It didn’t happen. Stanton stuck out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 12th inning with two outs.

Stanton’s whiff ended the game. The Yankees lost 6-5 and ended a dreadful home series in which they lost three of four games to the Orioles, an American League East rival.

Fans booed Stanton, a lot, as he was making his way through a 3-for-28 homestand. Not to keep harping on the Ks, but he struck out 16 times in those seven games.

Criticize Yankees fans for booing all you want, but their angst is justified. Stanton seems to think so.

“They’re not going to cheer for that, so what do you expect? Stanton said after Sunday’s game.

So, what else is there to say but, “Get out of town, Giancarlo.”

It might do you some good.

It might be good to get away from the Bronx and the preseason expectations of hitting as many or more home runs there as Babe Ruth. Flee, for a while, the expectations of leading the Yankees to championship No. 28.

Get away for a week and leave all the expectations that have been thrust upon your shoulders after you became a superstar in Miami, particularly following last year’s performance in which you smacked 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs. And while you’re gone, don’t think a thing about the expectations that come with your contract, the one that will pay you $295 million through 2027.

Just go, man. Get out of here. Go to Boston.

Yeah, I know, it’s not the friendliest city for players dressed in pinstripes. But go find your swing, your happy place, and drive a few balls over the wall, or off the wall or, hell, under the wall if you can. Clear your mind in Boston. Make contact, for Jete’s sake!

Follow it up with a trip to Detroit this weekend, doing the same thing there. Forget about the Bronx. Forget about the Ks thus far in the House That Jeter Built. Faaaagetaboutit! Rip Comerica Park a new one.

Get your mind right for the next homestand. You’ll play 10 games there in Yankee Stadium, beginning April 16 against the Miami Marlins, the team that sent you to the Bronx. Yeah, they did you a favor getting you away from that circus, but you don’t want to thank them. You want to make them wish they had gotten in the trade a few more bags of peanuts for the elephants.

Some say much of Stanton’s struggles can be blamed on the cold weather the Yankees have played through in New York. They say that once temperatures heat up just a little, so will Stanton. They say, having been raised in Southern California and playing the past eight seasons in Miami, he is not used to swinging a bat at curveballs draped in icicles on 40-degree days with snow and rain and fog following him around the ballpark.

That may be true. And, sure, April can be cold in the Bronx, but so can October.

There will be many games between now and the playoffs for Stanton to rid himself of whatever demons are causing his bat to miss inside fastballs… and curveballs… and sliders … and… you get the point.

“The season is much longer than a week,” Stanton said minutes after his fifth K Sunday. “A couple good games and I can turn it around and help us win.”

Good attitude!

So go now, Giancarlo. Go find whatever you lost between Miami and New York. Bring it back to the Bronx and give us, baseball fans, the show we are waiting for. Give us home runs to Monument Park. Give us three-run moon shots that thrust daggers into the hearts of Red Sox Nation in late September.

But leave behind your sombreros, be they gold or platinum.

Do so and the boos will stop. Yankee Stadium crowds will roar. The New York tabloids will stop spelling your name “GianKarlo.” And John Sterling will have five words for you: “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo!”

And Suzn Waldman will giggle with delight.

A pal’s brilliant idea

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A few years back, a friend of mine had a terrific idea.

I was a several calendar flips into writing The Rainout Blog, which at the time involved all sports and struggling to find time to quickly write posts every time a rain drop splattered on a sporting event… including cricket. I was having fun with the blog, but this odd hobby (read: obsession) of mine was getting to be a bit too much.

I remember one early fall Thursday night someone texted me saying, “Dude, it’s raining hard at the South Florida football game. Why is this not on the blog?” I knew right then, even though this is no high-click blog, I was putting a bit too much pressure on myself to expedite content for my 17 somewhat loyal readers.

That’s when my pal presented the idea: “Why don’t you write a post once a week? You could recap the entire week in one story.”

Brilliant! Except, at the time, I thought it was a stupid idea.

Sorry, bro. You were right.

That was about seven or eight years ago. It has taken me that long to realize the once-a-week thing is a pretty cool, and manageable, concept. I can easily spend a few minutes online each day, researching and then writing what is now a baseball-only blog.

I started “This Week in Baseball Weather” three weeks ago, and took a bye last week. The next edition is set to be posted Friday. In it, you’ll learn why you should use the same weather app as Suzyn Waldman, how Buck Showalter is keeping his catchers fresh throughout the summer heat, and how catching a cold during spring training in Mexico brought Lou Finney’s 1937 season to an early end.

I’d like to say the content is ready to post, but as I write, rain is delaying the start of the Cubs-Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field, and the forecast is a bit foreboding for a few other games scheduled for this Thursday night.

O-no! Nats and Orioles rained out

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MASN

 

“Ah, come on,” was the exact quote from me as I stepped into The Rainout Blog official viewing room – my wife calls it the den –and saw the image above on my TV screen.

You may think a guy who occasionally writes about baseball rainouts gets his kicks every time as baseball games is called or delay by inclement weather.

Well OK, I do usually, but last night I was really looking forward to hanging out and watching the Nationals pull even in their series with the Orioles.

Bryce Harper was ready, too, as the MASN cameras caught him peering out at the rain pelting the Nationals Park field.

“It’s raining. It’s miserable and Bryce is hoping mom doesn’t call him home for dinner because he still wants to play ball,” Nationals TV play-by-play man Bob Carpenter said.

 

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Photo from my crappy phone

 

I’m not sure if Bryce got a call from his mom, but he didn’t get to play ball.
The game has been rescheduled for 7:05 p.m., Thursday, June 8 at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are scheduled to host Philadelphia – the Phillies again? – tonight. However, the weather forecast is not promising, calling for a 70 percent chance of rain when Tanner Roark is scheduled to deliver the first pitch.

Rain chances increase to about 85 percent around the 9 o’clock hour… about the time Jayson Werth would be clubbing another home run against his former team.

The Nationals-Orioles rainout was the fourth MLB rainout this week. The White Sox and Twins were postponed Wednesday night.

Hail halted the Monday night contest between the Cubs and Rockies at Coors Field.

On Sunday, the Dodgers and Padres were postponed because of rain, breaking a streak of 134 games at Petco Park without a weather-related postponement. The last came on July 19 1995.

That’s impressive, but not nearly as much as the Padres’ previous mark of 820 consecutive games that began April 4, 2006 and ended with the 1995 postponement.

Ray Caldwell sparks Indians to win over Philly

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caldwell-ray-locDark, ominous storm clouds rolled off Lake Erie and barreled toward League Park. Black sky

loomed over the ballyard, and rain, which had been falling lightly since the fourth inning,

threatened to become heavier.

The baseball game stirring underneath the clouds on this Sunday afternoon in downtown

Cleveland was nearly complete. The Indians led the visiting Philadelphia Athletics 2-1 in the top

of the ninth inning.

Ray Caldwell stood on the mound on this warm August day, pitching in his first game with the

Indians. The right hander retired the first two A’s batters as the storm above intensified.

Caldwell readied to pitch to the next to Athletics’ shortstop Joe Dugan when…

Boom!

A fearsome lightning bolt zipped from the overhanging clouds. Frightened spectators scurried for

cover.

“The bolts flashed here and there, causing much excitement,” Harry P. Edwards wrote in the

Sporting News days later. “There was a blinding flash that seemed to set the diamond on fire and

Caldwell was knocked flat from the shock of it.”

His teammates rushed in to check on the hurler, who, “lay stretched out in the pitcher’s box.”

Caldwell was down but not out. He did a quick inventory of his arms and legs. What a relief.

Everything was still attached.

The pitcher dusted off his pinstriped uniform, and readied to finish off Dugan and the A’s.

After the game, Caldwell told the Cleveland Press that the lightning strike “felt just like

somebody came up with a board and hit me on top of the head and knocked me down.”

***

Trailing the Chicago White Sox by eight games, Indians’ player-manager Tris Speaker refused

“to admit they were out of the pennant race.” The day before this matinee with last-place

Philadelphia, the Tribe had rolled off five wins in their last six games.

“They are fighting hard for every game and have been fairly successful despite the decidedly

erratic pitching the team has had,” The Sporting News claimed.

To boost the rotation, Cleveland picked up Caldwell, a fun-loving spitballer, whom the Red Sox

had released in early July.

Now weeks after the signing, Caldwell, on a day in which the Cleveland Plain Dealer had

forecasted “showers and cooler” temperatures, was pitching a masterful game in the debut for his

new team.

The Indians picked up their only two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a walk, a sacrifice, a

couple of ground outs and a throwing error by Dugan – but no hits.

The A’s scored a run in the fifth when George Burns crossed the plate on a Cy Perkins grounder.

Burns had reached base after being hit by a pitch.

Caldwell cruised through eight innings against the A’s, who had lost 13 of 14 games.

Into the ninth they went. The Athletics’ first two batters failed to reach base safely.

Then came the ruckus.

***

As Dugan stood at the plate, “Thousands of spectators were thrown into a momentary panic by

the bolt which came without warning and made as much noise as the back firing of a thousand

autos or the explosion of a dozen shells from a battery of big berthas,” the Cleveland Plain

Dealer reported the following day.

Caldwell’s teammates feared “he may have been killed,” Edwards wrote in the Sporting News,

“but he struggled to his feet, and after frisking himself to see if he was all there, pitched what

was left of the game, which was finished before the rain became a downpour.”

The lightning, the Cleveland Press reported, had knocked off Indians’ catcher Steve O’Neill’s

mask and hat, as well as Harry Davis’ navy blue A’s cap. Davis was coaching third base for

Philadelphia.

“We all could feel the tingle of the electric shock running through our systems, particularly in

our legs,” umpire Billy Evans said after the game.

Davis, the Press reported, “got a second shock, for Cy Perkins came up to feel Harry’s head and

see if he was hurt. The lightning had charged Davis’ hair with electricity and his whole frame

tingled when Cy touched him.”

Teammates also claimed to have felt an “electrical current” from lightning hitting the metal

spikes on their shoes.

“One of the players touched Caldwell on the head and leaped into the air. He said the pitcher

seemed to be crackling with electricity,” a reporter wrote in a wire story.

Is this possible?

“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,” said

Joseph Dwyer, a lightning researcher and 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 Cleveland player who complained of numbness was Ray Chapman, who nearly a year later

was killed after being hit by a pitch thrown from Yankees’ hurler Carl Mays. Running to

Caldwell, Chapman nearly fell from the numb feeling in his leg.

The lightning event was quiet frightful for the spectators.

Newspaper reports say lighting danced along the ballpark rails near where some fans were sitting

and jumped toward the pitcher’s mound.

“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.”

Even pitchers.

***

There still was one more out to go.

Still shocked, figuratively and possibly literally, from the turn of events, players took their

positions. Caldwell pitched to Dugan and “forced him to hit a grounder to Gardner just as the

clouds broke and the rain came down heavily,” wrote the Plain Dealer.

Game over. Indians 2, Athletics 1.

Caldwell pitched a complete game and allowed Philadelphia only one run and four hits. He

struck out three and walked two.

Afterward, Caldwell assessed the damage and found he had slight burns on his chest. Speculation

at the time concluded lightning had hit the metal button on his cap, “surged through his body,

and exited through his metal spikes.”

This, like a direct strike on a person, is unlikely, said Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, founding director of

the African Centres for Lightning and Electromagnetics and professor emerita at the University

of Illinois at Chicago.

“Lightning only goes through the body for perhaps three-to- four microseconds before it flashes

over the outside, and that’s not long enough to cause internal burns,” Dr. Cooper said. “It would

be nice to know what the chest burns looked like. Was there a linear burn down the middle or

sides of the chest where there would be sweat lines that lightning turned into steam causing

burns? Was it where metal was? Did he have a necklace with a cross on it, so that there was a

cross shape burned in?”

Dr. Cooper also wondered if the burns could have been fern-like, or Lichtenberg figures.

***

Caldwell recovered and Cleveland’s win meant the Indians kept pace and remained eight games

behind the American League-leading Chicago White Sox, who had also won that day, 4-1, over

the New York Yankees.

The Indians put together a run through the season’s remaining weeks, including a mid-September

streak of 12 wins in 13 games that began with Caldwell pitching a 3-0 no-hitter against the

Yankees, one of his former teams. However, Cleveland finished three and a half games behind

the White Sox, who went on to infamously represent the American League in the 1919 World

Series.

Caldwell’s electrifying performance helped spark the Indians’ late-season run. In six games with

his new club, the big righty pitched to a 5-1 record with a 1.71 ERA, proving the Indians had

made the right move in giving the pitcher, who was 31 years old at the time, another chance to

prove himself.

“When Speaker announced he was going to give Ray Caldwell a trial in the box, lots of persons

thought he was crazy,” wrote the Sporting News on Sept. 4, 1919. “But Speaker now has the last

laugh on the doubters, for Caldwell turned in and beat the Athletics easily and then all but beat

the White Sox, finally being trounced by them in the ninth inning, 3 to 2, not bad pitching for a

pitcher thought to be through as a big leaguer.”