Tigers defend umpires’ call on rain delay, game’s end
UPDATE: In light of last night’s report of a formal complaint being filed, I followed up. Both the Tigers and Major League Baseball said no complaint was filed about the weather-related decisions.
The last time the Tigers were here in Boston, manager Jim Leyland made headlines across baseball with his rant on the umpiring over the four-game series at the end of May. When Jerry Layne made the call to start Tuesday’s game in the rain, delay the game when the rain finally grew harder in the sixth inning, then call the game when the rain wouldn’t stop, you figured he was in for an interesting postgame interview.
Instead, he took the high road, or at least the pragmatic one.
“At some point, umpires have to make a call,” Leyland said. “It’s a tough call. Whether we could’ve gotten that, you’ve got the bases loaded, you’re a little bit excited that you have a shot, but the umpires do the best they can with that stuff. We had been playing in some pretty good rain, and I think Jerry just decided at that point that he needed to stop it. He gave it a good shot to try to get it in, but from what I’m hearing, it’s not supposed to do stop until 1 or 1:30.
“Certainly, to call the game at this point was the right call. Could we have maybe gotten through that inning? Who knows? That’s a tough situation for an umpire, but I think they definitely made the right call, calling it now. So be it. We put ourselves in an unfortunate situation.”
Verlander sounded similar. He admitted that he “really would’ve liked to have seen one more batter in that game,” meaning Omar Infante stepping to the plate with two outs in the sixth as the potential go-ahead run. But he also sounded like he understood it was time for that game to get stopped.
“I don’t think they could’ve waited any longer,” Verlander said. “It was getting pretty bad out there. Obviously, I would’ve liked to seen them give it one more bat. Who knows what happens? Infante hits a grand slam and we’d be walking out of here winners right now. But you can’t fault those guys. I think they waited as long as they possibly could.”
Why start that game in the first place, you ask, instead of trying to play two games on Wednesday? You can point to the constrictions of the Major League schedule for that one, if you must. With an extra round of postseason play meaning less time at season’s end, and more incentive than ever to play the full schedule, umpires and teams are under more pressure than ever to try to get in games whenever there’s a window, despite changeable summer weather. Though it was raining at game’s start, it was a light rain that picked up after the first inning.
Nobody brought that up after the game. The umpires warned the Tigers about the weather conditions well ahead of time so that they knew what they were facing and what the forecast called for.
“The umpires, they do a great job with that,” Leyland said of their handling of the weather conditions. “They’re in a Catch-22 in situations like that.”