Baseball’s Disgraceful Night

There are many reasons to dislike interleague play, but the fact that teams make one visit to a venue often creates playing conditions that are not ideal for the players and viewing conditions that are simply unfair to the paying fans.

The disgrace in St. Louis last night was a case in point.

The Kansas City Royals rallied for three runs in the top of 9th to take a 4-2 lead and then the game was delayed for 4 hours, 32 minutes.

As the game began at 7:15 p.m. CDT, there was a near capacity crowd of 43,916. When the game ended, at 3:14 a.m. with Royals winning, 4-2, there were a couple hundred fans at most left to see the conclusion.

Umpire crew chief Joe West had declined to invoke a rule clause in the final season meeting between teams that would have wiped out the top of the 9th and declared the Cardinals 2-1 winners.

The delay started at 10:32 p.m.

The game resumed at 3:04 a.m.

Let’s go to the MLB rule book

As Derrick Goold writes in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

In the 2013 rulebook, Rule 4.12 (b) (4) states that in such instances the game can be suspended at that moment – Royals leading by two runs, bases loaded, no outs – and completed at another date. There is a wrinkle. If it’s the last time the two teams will be playing each other in the season, then the game would revert back to the last full inning played. The Royals led by two, but if the umpires ruled for a suspended game, the Cardinals would win, 2-1.

The rule is ridiculous and the waiting was disgraceful.

Yes, I know there is no clock in baseball, but this is where one is needed.

Here are two alternatives that could provide some relief to fans:

  • From the time the umps suspend play a countdown clock begins and 2 hours and 30 minutes later (150 minutes) the game is over and all suspension rules take over.
  • From the time the umps suspend play a countdown clock begins and 2 hours and 30 minutes later (150 minutes) every fan’s ticket becomes a rain check for a future game, whether the game is continued or not.

Kansas City’s Jeff Francoeur, whose leadoff homer started the three-run rally in the 9th said about the game that ended the Royals eight-game losing streak, “For us, that’s a huge win. I can tell you this, there’s not a person in here who cares that it’s 3:30 in the morning. It feels like 10 o’clock for us.”

It’s not that way for the Royals or Cardinals fans who wanted to see a conclusion to the game in a reasonable fashion.

Last night was an embarrassing black eye for baseball.