Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Baseball owners alter rules over delays, tiebreaks


Major League Baseball owners rewrote their rule book here on Thursday to remove any chance of rain-shortened playoff games after a confusing situation in last year’s World Series.

An amendment approved by club owners requires all playoff and World Series games be played to a full conclusion of at least nine innings regardless of how many innings might be complete and no matter the score when play is halted. Owners also voted to have head-to-head records replace coin flips when it comes to deciding a home-field advantage for extra tie-breaker games should they be needed to determine division titles or wild-card playoff berths.

The decision to resume and play suspended games to completion at the same site comes three months after the first rain-suspended game in World Series history brought an odd climax to the deciding game of the championship final.

The Philadelphia Phillies were leading the fifth game of the best-of seven final 2-1 after five innings in a pouring rain.

In regular-season games, a team leading after five innings is awarded a victory if bad weather prevents completion of a game.

The Rays equalized at 2-2 and the game was halted after 5 1/2 innings with many people thinking Tampa Bay had barely escaped elimination in an unprecedented rain-shortened decider.

But after the game was halted and its finish postponed, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he would not have seen the crown awarded in such a manner.

Now the rules spell out what was Selig’s interpretation. Two days later, the showers subsided and the game resumed for the final regulation innings with the Phillies defeating the Rays 4-3 to claim the first sports crown by any team from Philadelphia in a quarter-century.

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