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Afternoon games aren't in the picture

October 29, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Shaikin is a Times staff writer.

PHILADELPHIA — In a World Series dominated by late-night starts and rain delays, talk inevitably turns to why a game could not be played during the day.

Commissioner Bud Selig calls himself a traditionalist. He would love to play one World Series game during the afternoon, he says, but television says no.

Fox Sports President Ed Goren makes no apologies.

"We pay the money for the rights to televise baseball," Goren said. "Nobody is giving us a rebate to change that scenario."

Fox pays $250 million per year for rights that include World Series games in prime time, when ratings are the highest and advertisers pay the most.

Baseball owners might wish to play a day game, if only for the noble purpose of growing the fan base at a time World Series games start so late that even West Coast kids have trouble staying awake until they end.

In that event, owners might have to negotiate a lower payment from Fox, or get a corporate sponsor to compensate Fox for the advertising dollars that would be lost by the move out of prime time.

With sports broadcasts increasingly concentrated on cable television, Goren said fans should appreciate the World Series on Fox, whatever the hour.

"The viewers have a wonderful bargain," he said. "Turn on the TV -- for free -- watch some commercials and enjoy yourself."

Who's up?

The World Series is scheduled to resume tonight, with someone pitching and someone batting.

The identities of the pitcher and batter have not been publicly revealed, and two pitchers could be warming up in advance of the game.

Game 5 was suspended in the middle of the sixth inning, with the score tied, 2-2, and the Philadelphia Phillies coming to bat. Cole Hamels, the Phillies' pitcher, is due up, but Manager Charlie Manuel said Tuesday he would hit for Hamels.

Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon would not say whether he would leave right-handed reliever Grant Balfour in the game, or whether he would use a left-hander, probably rookie David Price.

Manuel would have to announce his pinch-hitter before Maddon would have to decide whether to make a pitching change.

Both managers ruled out using a starting pitcher in relief tonight, even though they would be more familiar with warming up in advance of a specific game time.

Aced out

Hamels had made 75 pitches when the game was suspended. Manuel said Hamels would have remained in the game, even with the score tied and his spot in the batting order due up.

"I felt like he was definitely on course to go seven innings, and more than likely eight," Manuel said. "He was our best pitcher, and we were going to try to get the most out of him."

Still, Manuel said he liked his team's chances to win the World Series tonight.

"We've got 12 outs coming," Manuel said. "They've got nine."

Ruled out

Fans, players, baseball publicists and Fox broadcasters had no idea that Selig had decided the World Series would not end with a rain-shortened game. The Phillies led after five innings, 2-1, when Selig's office distributed notes that said, "This game is now an official game."

The rules define an official game as any game in which the losing team has batted five times. Selig said he told club executives before the game that he would override the rule book, if necessary.

"I have enough authority here, frankly," Selig said, "so I think that I'm not only on solid ground, I'm on very solid ground. . . . I would not have allowed the World Series to end this way."

The point became moot when the Rays tied the score in the sixth inning, at which point the game was stopped.


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