ser·en·dip·i·ty /ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪti/ noun
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck
NEW YORK -- Serendipity. That's what I thought I had on Friday. I had a pre-planned business trip to New York City on Friday and Saturday, flying back to Chicago late Saturday afternoon. I knew I'd be free Friday evening, and so when the first game of the ALDS between the Yankees and Tigers was scheduled for Friday, I patiently waited online when the Yankees put a few tickets on sale for Game 1.
I scored a nice single seat in the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium, right above the visitors bullpen; the total cost was $37, including fees; that's $12 less than the average cost of a bleacher ticket at Wrigley Field in 2011. Between that and being able to ride there on the NYC subway, it figured to be one of the less expensive days I've ever spent at a playoff game. Postseason baseball is worth seeing in person even if you're not a fan of one of the teams; the atmosphere is absolutely electric, and I was hoping to enjoy a terrific pitching matchup of CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander.
Then serendipity went and bit me in the ass.
Rain was in the local weather forecast, but all the forecasts had it holding off until after midnight. That, even with the 8:37 p.m. local time start and the length of many games involving the Yankees, should have been enough time to finish.
After the Tigers took the lead on a Delmon Young home run, the Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the first without a hit; Derek Jeter reached on a dropped third strike and a walk and a pair of groundouts later, New York had a run. Meanwhile, radar images were lighting up in greens and yellows and reds, and it began raining even as Sabathia finished off the top of the second inning with a flourish, striking out Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn.
The tarp came on the field:
And the wait began. This is a sad sight at any baseball game:
You'd figure they would wait forever, because neither team wanted to lose the possibility of throwing its ace in both Games 1 and 5, if needed. I had moved to another location to stay dry, and watched the rain begin to let up. About 40 minutes after the delay began, the tarp came off:
The grounds crew worked diligently, spreading drying agents around the dirt surfaces of the infield. It appeared the game might resume, but ominously, the crew never rolled up the tarp; they left it sitting in the outfield and soon, it was replaced:
And that's where that bright white tarp stayed. Following an hour and 17 minute delay, the game was suspended at 10:24 p.m. After the 2008 World Series, where Bud Selig made the Rays and Phillies play in a driving rainstorm until Game 5 was tied and he could suspend it, MLB instituted a rule where any postseason game that has weather too inclement for its completion be suspended. I managed to make it back to my hotel without getting too soaked, a pretty good accomplishment given that I had gone to Yankee Stadium without rain gear, since the forecast seemed OK. The stadium gift shops sold out of ponchos quickly and workers there told me they hadn't stocked umbrellas in weeks.
So that's where things stand. The game will be resumed at 8:37 p.m. ET Saturday evening in the bottom of the second inning, tied 1-1. That doesn't help Sabathia and Verlander; new pitching rotations were announced by both managers:
For Detroit, Verlander will now pitch Game 3, on Monday. Doug Fister will go Saturday when Game 1 resumes, Max Scherzer will go Sunday in Game 2, and Rick Porcello will go Tuesday in Game 4 (if necessary), with Fister slated for Game 5.
For New York ... Ivan Nova will pitch Saturday and Freddy Garcia will pitch Sunday, with Sabathia probably pitching against Verlander in Game 3. Should he need a fourth starter, Joe Girardi is considering A.J. Burnett.
Based on conversations heard among Yankee fans on the subway ride back to the hotel, they are very, very afraid of seeing Burnett throw at all in this series.
Not only does the rain suspension not help Sabathia and Verlander, it doesn't help me. I can't stay in New York another day to see the completion of this game. But I've got a ticket, a program, and a souvenir T-shirt and cap. Years from now, I can say I was there, and who'll know?
Well, you will, because you've read this tale. I won't tell if you won't. Oh, there's one more thing. You should know that the weather forecast for Saturday isn't much better than Friday's. MLB has ruled out split doubleheaders for the postseason; a rainout Saturday would mean playing straight through next Thursday without off days in this series.
In a season with so many rainouts in so many cities, including seven regular season postponements for the Yankees, it seems somehow an appropriate conclusion.