Meeting Rule 4.12

Rain rain, go away. Tonight’s possible World Series deciding game has been officially suspended due to excessive precipitation in Philadelphia. How precarious is this suspension? Several people are no doubt thinking that technically the game should be called (because they completed the top of the fifth) and the score reverted to the previous fully completed inning. That would make the score 2-1 in favor of Philadelphia and the game would be over. And that would be it, four games to one, Philadelphia would ironically break their title drought thanks to a downpour.

Well thank goodness for the rule changes that came about prior to the 2007 season. Prior to 2007, the above would be the letter of the (baseball) law. Starting with the 2007 season however, we now have Rule 4.12 which covers the suspension of games. What does it say? A lot, but here’s my best take at it in plain English as it pertains to tonight. A baseball games shall be considered suspended if a regulation game (4.5 innings completed with the home team ahead, or 5 innings with the visiting club ahead or tied) is called while an inning is in progress, the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead and the home team has not retaken the lead, or if it is a regulation game that is called with the score tied.

If Carlos Pena had not singled home B.J. Upton with two outs in the top of the sixth, tonight’s game would not fall under any of the nine provisions for a suspended game and the old rules would be back in effect. That is, game over, series over. That is how close we all came to the worst ending in baseball since Bud Selig’s All-Star game tie.

Baseball will attempt to resume play tomorrow at 8pm eastern in Philadelphia, but with a forecast currently showing tomorrow to be worse than tonight, only time will tell if that will prove feasible. And if not? Well, it gets pretty murky. Going back to Rule 4.12 we find the provision for the resumption of suspended games. It shall be resumed before the next scheduled game between the two clubs on the same grounds or played at the opposing club’s park if there are no more scheduled games between the teams. We don’t have another scheduled game in Philadelphia so we’re going to resume this game in Tampa; right? It depends on how baseball interprets what constitutes a “scheduled game” when we’re dealing with a postseason series and realistically, they aren’t going to allow this to be resumed in Tampa. Baseball’s rules are well-written to disguise easy interpretation and this section is no exception, but the good part for all of us as fans is that this is the World Series and nothing short of a labor stoppage is going to prevent to playing this out fully.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Gary from Chapel Hill
Gary from Chapel Hill

It’s time for one more rule change: Every postseason game should be played to it’s completion. Any game, no matter the score or inning, would be suspended if necessary and completed prior to the next game. There is no excuse for the “what ifs” of last night.

As a Red Sox fan, I shudder to think about how the fans/media would have reacted around the country if it had been the Red Sox instead of the Rays. Or, for that matter, if it were the Red Sox instead of the Phillies!