Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Postponement irks New Yorkers

Unfavorable forecast prompts decision

October 5, 2006

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— Justin Verlander was throwing in the outfield, Mike Mussina was nowhere to be seen, and the fans in Yankee Stadium just wondered what was going on.

In a rainout with hardly any rain, Game 2 of the AL playoff series between Detroit and the New York Yankees was postponed Wednesday night.

Tens of thousands of fans sitting in Yankee Stadium for nearly two hours made for an odd sight, especially because it wasn't raining for much of the time after the scheduled 7:09 p.m. CDT start.

Although a light rain fell occasionally, threatening weather was in the forecast. Still, fans weren't informed of the postponement until more than 10 minutes after the teams knew no game would be played.

"Where's the rain? Let them play!" one fan yelled over and over after the postponement was announced by public address announcer Bob Sheppard.

Game 2 was rescheduled for 12:09 p.m. today, with Verlander (17-9) opposed by Mussina (15-7).

The teams will lose the travel day, and Game 3 will be in Detroit at 7:09 p.m. Friday.

The Yankees lead 1-0 in the best-of-five series.

Verlander went to left field and started throwing but never went to the bullpen mound.

"Obviously, I went out there and I got stretched a little bit," the bewildered pitcher said. "We were informed the game time was at 10 o'clock. Obviously, I got out there and Mussina's not out there. Nobody's out there."

Detroit players said the first indication they got of a postponement was when a member of the grounds crew went over to pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

Having checked out of the Grand Hyatt of Manhattan's East Side, the Tigers had to change hotels and wound up at the New York Hilton and Towers on the West Side.

When it appeared the game would start, Mussina said the Yankees objected.

"Quite a few of us said, 'This is crazy. You're going to mess up the whole series,'" he said. "We'd play a couple innings and then get rained out, then we've got to go play again tomorrow, and it's just better this way. Even if it stopped raining 10 minutes from now it's better this way."

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, reached at his home in Milwaukee, declined comment, referring questions to Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

"We wanted to get the game in. We thought we could," Solomon said. "The forecast indicated we could get in two, three innings tops and would have to stop again for an hour-and-a-half to two hours. We didn't want to burn up two pitchers if we had that coming through. We reconvened, talked, and we made a decision jointly with the commissioner."

Solomon said both teams were informed of the rainout approximately the same time but not simultaneously because cell phones didn't work underneath the ballpark. He said Verlander hadn't warmed up fully.

"He did some soft tossing and some stretching, but he didn't do any real pitching," Solomon said.

Verlander said the biggest challenge would be calming down Wednesday night and getting ready to pitch today.

"It might be pretty tough to get sleep tonight, you know, once I got up for the game tonight," he said.

New York won Tuesday's opener, 8-4, behind Chien-Ming Wang's pitching and Derek Jeter's 5-for-5 night. Randy Johnson is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees in Game 3 against Kenny Rogers.

"It rains all the time when I pitch so it's not that big of deal," Mussina said. "This is routine for me. Rain, it's always routine."

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