Angels, Yanks ready with an eye on sky
With rain in the forecast Saturday, ALCS may be delayed
NEW YORK -- Here is the soundtrack, so far, for the 2009 American League Championship Series:
"If the rain comes,
They run and hide their head.
They might as well be dead ..."
That, of course, is "Rain," yet another composition credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, although the lyrical flavor is much more Lennon than McCartney.
The weather or a discussion of how bad the weather might become is dominating the first weekend of play between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium. The forecast for Game 1 on Friday night included cold and windy conditions accompanied by precipitation. It was cold and windy, but the amount of precipitation was thankfully small and completely manageable.
It wasn't an ideal night for baseball, but at this latitude in mid-October, how many nights actually are? Still, the forecast for Game 2 on Saturday night was considerably worse. It was not as bad as the forecast that God gave Noah, but it was not a good baseball forecast, with a 90 percent chance of precipitation, and a long, steady rainfall predicted.
So it was all relative. What looked like truly crummy weather on Friday night might have been the best baseball weather of the weekend.
If there is a postponement, Game 2 tickets would be good whenever it is played.
A postponement could wreak havoc with the delicate postseason television schedule, but this is not of particular personal concern to the vast majority of baseball fans. Now that the long-awaited postseason is finally here, people want to experience the daily rhythm of the thing, the hopes and dreams -- even when they are interspersed with the occasional crushing defeat. Rainouts don't give you much of that.
A postponement could work against the Yankees, because it could force them to jettison plans to pitch Game 1 winner CC Sabathia on three days' rest. The Angels' rotation plans would not be significantly altered, because they are going with a four-man rotation for this series.
The Yankees are on a roll, winning four consecutive postseason games. Would a rainout break their momentum? Manager Joe Girardi noted on Friday night that the Yankees had a significant layoff after their ALDS victory, but they came back and "played extremely well" in the ALCS opener. At least, Girardi said, one game had been played, and won.
In Game 1, the Yankees were better in the marginal climate than the Angels were. No matter what anybody says, logic would dictate that the team from New York would fare better in these conditions than the team from SoCal.
The Angels tried to diminish this factor, with mixed results. Manager Mike Scioscia suggested that mastering the weather was a question of mind over matter.
"I think that's what weather is, really, it's a distraction that needs to be filtered out," Scioscia said. "You need to go out there and bring your game onto the field under any circumstances, whether you're in a visiting ballpark or you're playing in a little drizzle or you're playing when it's cold or you're playing when the guys behind you maybe have missed a couple of plays."
The Angels' Game 2 starter, lefty Joe Saunders, a likable fellow who has gone 33-14 over the past two seasons, wanted to give testimony that he was acclimated to the cold weather.
"I grew up in Washington, D.C., I pitched at Virginia Tech for a long time," Saunders said. "The cold weather, I'm used to it."
No, Joe, with all due respect, you didn't find out about the cold growing up in Washington, D.C., and going to college at Virginia Tech. If you had grown up in International Falls, Minn., and then attended Bemidji State University, you would really know something about cold weather. The District of Columbia, that is in the low Minors of coldness.
But Saunders said something very good on the subject of playing baseball in bad weather: "For me, it's just another bad day, but a great day to play baseball."
That is well said. In fact, that is something that we might be able to turn into a slogan for postseason baseball, particularly as October turns into November.
As the postseason moves ever closer to winter, this issue will not be disappearing from our, you know, radar maps.
For the moment, the richly anticipated ALCS between the two teams with the best records in baseball is threatened by a bleak, grim, damp, soggy, heartless weather forecast. But the thing is, everybody who lives north of the old Confederacy knows that the weather could be a lot worse than this.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.