Weather forces delay of Series

Published 4:06 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sooner or later, someone will win this World Series.

Just not Tuesday night. Too wet. Besides, the baseball commissioner went home to Milwaukee.

Maybe the Phillies and Rays can play ball Wednesday night. But snow showers are in the forecast.

Email newsletter signup

So just sit tight, folks, we’ll get back to you when we can. Right now, bad weather is turning the Fall Classic into a Rainfall Classic.

Players and fans remained in limbo Tuesday, with Game 5 still suspended from the previous night. It was tied at 2 in the sixth inning when a steady downpour turned Citizens Bank Park into a quagmire, washing away the foul lines and turning home plate into a puddle.

The Phillies lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven matchup, meaning Philadelphia could be close to winning a championship the city desperately craves.

Or perhaps not.

‘‘It’s kind of like overtime in a sense, I guess,’’ Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘Or sudden victory.’’

‘‘It’s just the way it is,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s no crying about it.’’

OK, no crying here. The manager who listens to Springsteen while filling out his lineup card was real calm — he’d already lost one game at 1:47 a.m., then saw this unexpected break force his Rays to relocate to a hotel 25 miles south in Wilmington, Del.

Too late for complaining, anyway. A Series studded with big boppers such as Ryan Howard and B.J. Upton was no longer whacky — it was downright wacky.

The teams are tentatively set to resume at 8:37 p.m. Wednesday.

Since the Phillies will come to bat in the bottom of the sixth, fans won’t have to wait long for the seventh-inning stretch. They might not even have time to get a hot dog.

Hard to tell how many people will tune in even if — for once — a World Series wraps up before kids have to go to bed. The TV ratings for the first four games dipped by 25 percent from last year.

Tickets from Game 5 are good for the resumption, provided everyone can scramble back with their soggy stubs. The Phillies’ ballpark holds nearly 46,000 people and surely logistics will prevent some of them from returning.

Then again, a $160 seat in the upper deck is suddenly more valuable for someone eager to see the Phillies try to win their first championship since 1980, and the city’s first major sports title since the NBA’s 76ers in 1983.

By Tuesday evening, over 50 tickets were available for resale on, spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer said. The prices ranged from $599 to $3,500.

Commissioner Bud Selig, who flew home for a day, was ready to return to Philly for as long as necessary.

‘‘We’ll stay here if we have to celebrate Thanksgiving here,’’ he said in announcing the suspension.

If the Phillies win a battle of the bullpens when Game 5 resumes, they’ll soon parade up Broad Street. If they lose, time to fly to Tampa Bay.

Delays in the World Series are rare. There has never been a rain-shortened game and this was the first suspension.

There were three straight washouts in 1962 with the Yankees and Giants, and a series of rainouts set up the classic 1975 game between Boston and Cincinnati that Carlton Fisk won with a home run off the foul pole. In 1989, an earthquake interrupted Oakland and San Francisco for a week.

While baseball purists deride Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field as an antiseptic dome that’s ringed with crazy catwalks, at least wet weather isn’t a factor.

Rain intruded in Game 3 Saturday night, with the first pitch pushed back to 10:06 p.m. — the latest start time in Series history — and the last pitch came shortly before 2 a.m.

Despite a shaky forecast, baseball tried to play Monday night. It was raining lightly at the start. Within a few innings, it was clear the showers weren’t going to quit.

‘‘You’re not going to win against Mother Nature,’’ Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels said.

Soon, every pitch and popup became an adventure as All-Stars were reduced to looking like Little Leaguers. The grounds crew kept putting down Diamond Dust to absorb the moisture, and it kept caking the infield.

With the wind chill dropping into the 30s, several players wore caps with ear flaps attached. Mud flaps would’ve been more appropriate.

‘‘I was upset with some of the things that went on,’’ Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ‘‘But I definitely was agreed with everything that happened, and I also agreed that the game definitely had to be stopped. The conditions were definitely unplayable.’’