MLB and Rain Delays

Just to clarify the discussion, here are the current rules on called/suspended MLB games (see esp. 4.10 and 4.12).

I go to a lot of baseball games, and while the occasional rain delay has a few charms charms–huddled up under the concourse making friends or watching the downpour in the seats while some unintelligible recap of the 1975 World Series is blaring on the jumbotron–I wonder if MLB would be better served taking a look at these rules for called/suspended games. They seem written for the bygone, train-travel age and don’t seem to have much respect for the modern fan.

If I were commissioner, I’d propose the following tweaks:

  • Push the “official game” inning to the seventh–rather than the fifth-- and make any game ended prior to this a suspended game. This would be the toughest, since teams would probably have to issue more rainchecks, but c’mon–in an era of late comebacks and shaky relief pitching, who thinks the team leading in the fifth is a liekly-enough winner that they should just be awarded a win?

  • If a rain delay (not just slow play:-) is long enough that a 9-inning game can’t be realistically completed before midnight local time, suspend/call it immediately. Assuming, say, three innings an hour and a start time of 7:05P, that’s a maximum of 1:55 in total delays that can be tolerated before the game is immediately called/suspended.

  • A suspended game is taken up from the same spot and (hopefully) finished the following afternoon prior to the next game. If this is the last game of a series then it still needs to be scheduled for a future date.

  • A game that is suspended for more than X days must be replayed in its entirety (unless the league later determines the game would have no effect on playoff berths).

  • The head umpire should be required to deliver delay status every 20 minutes, and that status relayed to fans via the public address system.

Just my ideas; any thoughts, baseball fans?

The bigger problem with this would be determining the Pitcher of Record. As it stands, a pitcher who finishes five innings with the lead and the team holds the lead until the end gets the win. You plan on making them wait two more innings?

Why would this be a problem? Starters rarely come back after a rain delay anyway, so if Pitcher A throws 5.1 and has the lead when the rain comes, but the game is completed the next day, treat it just like a regular pitching change when the game restarts.

Sure, you might have a couple of guys lose a start entirely because of the complete replay rule, but there’s nothing preventing the same pitchers from starting the replay game when it’s played.

Because, rain delay or not, it affects the official scoring rules. Pitchers rarely average 7 or more innings per start these days; they’re lucky if they even see six and two-thirds. 74 pitchers had ten or more wins last season, two of them were relievers. What do you think would happen if the win requirement was moved from the fifth to the seventh?

I’m not understanding the pitching argument here. If I pitch 5 innings, get pulled, and you save the game for me until the 7th when it gets rained out, I get the win. What’s the problem?

Why does pushing it from 5 to 7 affect the pitcher? How would they have to “wait”?

That’s not what’s being discussed.

I’m not a fan of suspended games:

  1. If I pay to see a game, I want to see the game resolved on that day. If I show up and see six innings, and the remainder is washed out by rain, at least I saw the entire game. If I see six innings, with the result still indeterminate and to be decided at some later time, I saw nothing.

  2. No one shows up to see the tag end of a suspended game. They have to schedule it early, before the regular game begins, in front of an empty park before most people are even home to watch it on TV. It looks and feels like a separate event, with no continuity with the earlier part of the game. What’s the point?

However, I do like the idea about a time limit on rain delays–I get annoyed when a rain delay drags on hour after hour and they won’t call it. And when a tie game is suspended, I agree that it should be replayed in its entirety after a certain number of days. Whereas when one team has a lead in a suspended game, I don’t think it’s ever fair to take it away.

It’s related.

CJJ* proposes making the game official after 7. Currently, the starting pitcher who is in for 5 gets the win, unless the lead changes. I’m trying to determine if the proposed rule changes include requiring the staring pitcher to stay in for 7 in order to get the win. If so, there’d be a bunch of starting pitchers up in arms because they typically don’t get that many innings now, meaning they’d not get as many wins with the change, and people love wins when it comes to determining awards.

If the Pitcher of Record stays at five and the official game is changed to 7, what’s the point?

It will never happen, because it isn’t good for the owners and it isn’t good for the players and those are the only sides that get a vote. Same reason we are never going to see scheduled double headers again.

It doesn’t; for the purpose of rain-delay rules, I’m not talking about changing starting pitcher qualifications for the win (that’s a whole other thread).

I don’t understand this argument; is the fear that a pitcher could leave after five with the win and then lose it because the game was shortened to six (i.e. before it became official)? I find it hard to believe that “a bunch” of starting pitchers would be up in arms about this–if so, why aren’t they up in arms now to change the win-qualification rules when, say, their outing is shortened because of a lengthy delay in the 4th (starters almost never return to a game in such a case)?

Having the official mark in the 5th made sense in an age where there were far more complete games (and fewer late-inning comebacks). I should really check on Retrosheet, but I’d guess a lead in the 5th is far less safe today than it was 50 years ago…why give it a cheap win, especially since its so easy with modern team travel to stage makeups?

Probably not, though this is shortsighted. If a game gets suspended, open the gates for the next day a few hours earlier and get some more walk up and concession sales. Players might like it because it gives players a few more AB’s on a season to pad stats–it’s sure got to beat playing cards in the dugout or watching TV in the clubhouse.