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PLAYING IN THE RAIN

Times staff writer Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

The Rays and Phillies continue to sit and wait for the rain to stop in Philadelphia. This is the 23rd time a World Series has been held up at least a day, but has it ever been more bizarre? Game 5 has been between the top of the sixth and the bottom of the sixth since Monday night, making it the first World Series game ever to be suspended.

But it's not the first time rain has left a mark on the World Series. Here's a look at some of the memorable World Series affected by rain.

1903

Boston Americans vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The very first World Series was dampened, literally, by three postponements during the eight games. The Americans fell behind three games to one then rallied to win the next four in a matchup that featured Pittsburgh's Honus Wagner and Boston's Cy Young.

1911

Philadelphia A's vs. New York Giants

The 2008 World Series is not the first Fall Classic to be thrown out of whack because of rain in Philadelphia. Six consecutive days of rain in Philadelphia delayed the start of Game 4. Game 3 was played in New York on Oct. 17. Game 4 wasn't played until exactly one week later on Oct. 24. That made for the longest break between World Series games until the San Francisco earthquake stopped the 1989 World Series between the Giants and Oakland A's for 10 days. A bad omen for Rays fans: Philadelphia (the A's, not the Phillies) won this World Series in six games.

1962

San Francisco Giants vs. New York Yankees

This matchup took 13 days to play seven games as rain on both coasts became the story. The first four games went off without a hitch. But Game 5 in New York was pushed back a day by rain before the Series headed to San Francisco for Games 6 and 7. Torrential rains all over the West Coast pushed back Game 6 another three days. The delays affected the Series. Instead of starting rookie Jim Bouton in Game 7, the Yankees were able to skip Bouton and go back to veteran Ralph Terry, who was able to make his third start in the Series. And Terry was brilliant. He won his second game as the Yankees beat the Giants in a 1-0 classic.

1975

Boston Red Sox vs. Cincinnati Reds

Some call Game 6 in 1975 the greatest World Series game ever played. But did you know that this game was delayed three days by rain? The Red Sox left Cincinnati down three games to two with Game 6 slated for Saturday, Oct. 21, at Fenway Park. But rain on Saturday, Sunday and Monday meant a Tuesday night Game 6. It carried into Wednesday morning as Boston catcher Carlton Fisk waved and waved his ball to hit off the foul pole next to the Green Monster in the 12th inning and give the Sox a 7-6 victory. The Reds, however, would win Game 7.

1986

New York Mets vs. Boston Red Sox

One of the most infamous moments in World Series history was a ball scooting through the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner in Game 6 to help the Mets rally for three runs in the bottom of the 10th and force a Game 7. But rain in New York on the day of scheduled Game 7 pushed the final game from Sunday to Monday. That allowed Boston to skip over scheduled starting pitcher Dennis "Oil Can'' Boyd and go with left-hander Bruce Hurst, who had won Games 1 and 5. In fact, when it appeared the Red Sox were going to win Game 6, MVP ballots were passed out and Hurst was to be the Series MVP had the Sox held on. It looked as if the rain would help the Red Sox as Hurst carried a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but the Mets rallied and eventually won 8-5.

2006

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers

There still are Cardinals fans cursing the rain of 2006. Game 4 was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 25, at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, but rain forced a day's delay. No big deal, unless you had tickets. The decision was made that those who had tickets for Thursday's Game 5 would now have tickets for Thursday's Game 4. Those with original Game 4 tickets would now have tickets for Friday's Game 5. Turns out, the Cardinals clinched in five games, meaning those who had only Game 5 tickets before the Series started didn't get to see their team clinch the world title. Bummer.

Oops of the day

She goofed; now give it a rest

It was one of the most embarrassing moments in recent sports broadcast memory, just about too painful to watch. On Sunday, Fox sideline reporter Danyelle Sargent interviewed 49ers interim coach Mike Singletary moments before his team played the Seahawks.

Sargent said, "I hear that your mentor, Bill Walsh, was one of the first phone calls you made when you found out you had the job. What does it mean to you to be the head coach of the 49ers?''

Walsh has been dead since July 2007.

The clip made the rounds briefly on YouTube, mostly because it was originally seen in New York on WNBC-TV's Mike'd Up, a show hosted by radio personality Mike Francesa. Eventually it ended up all over the Internet, including Sports Illustrated's Web site.

But there's more to the story. The interview wasn't live. It was an outtake. The NFL and Fox are upset that anyone would use the unauthorized clip for broadcast. Fox VP/communcations Dan Bell told New York's Newsday, "It was completely irresponsible for the host and producers of this (Francesa) show to broadcast unauthorized footage that never aired on our network.''

NFL senior VP/media operations Howard Katz told the New York Times, "To use an outtake was unfair. If it had been on the broadcast, it would have been fair game.''

Francesa pleaded innocence to the New York Times, saying, "Obviously a mistake was made. If we'd known that, we wouldn't have used it.''

As far as Sargent goes, she explained on Dan Patrick's syndicated radio show that she simply misspoke:

"I meant to say, 'I heard he was one of the first phone calls that you made when you decided that you wanted to get into coaching.'"

Sounds reasonable. We all should give Sargent the benefit of the doubt, and she should not lose her job. The grief she has taken over this is more punishment than she deserves.

Thought of the day

The natural thing to do is to get angry over the crummy weather in Philadelphia and blame Major League Baseball, as if it can control the weather. Actually, however, baseball postponements are rare. Only 22 times in history has a World Series game been postponed a day or more because of rain or cold. (That's not counting this season.) This is only the fourth time since 1981.

The bigger issue, often, is cold weather. It's not enough to postpone games, but certainly a 35-degree night up north has an effect. One could argue that baseball is the one sport that sometimes plays its championship games in much different environments than the regular season.

The solution, of course, is to alter the schedule either by shifting it or cutting it. Baseball will never go back to a 154-game schedule, but perhaps by mixing in a few doubleheaders during the year, the playoffs could start a week or two earlier and, at least, diminish the chance of players needing earmuffs on the field.

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