I suppose lots of fathers have their own cat's-in-the-cradle-and-the-silver-spoon moment.* Mine came on Oct. 31, 2007, in Nagoya, Japan. That, of course, was Halloween. And, of course, because I was trying to show more intensity in Nagoya, Japan, I was not back home in Kansas City, Mo., when my young daughters were going door to door and getting matchbox size Krackel bars and those little Alka-Seltzer two-packs of SweeTarts.
*This is funny as I think back: I remember being, oh, probably 13 or 14 years old -- so this had to be 1981 or so -- and my brother (who was 11) and I called a radio station and asked the DJ to play Cat's in the Cradle. The disc jockey said he would try. We listened for about an hour thinking how cool it was that you could actually call a radio station and have them play the song you wanted to hear -- imagine that sort of choice! What a world. Well, of course, this being 1981 or so, the DJ did not play Cat's in the Cradle. He played the various and time-appropriate Styx and REO Speedwagon songs. So we called BACK to ask for Cat's in the Cradle, and the guy yelled at us, "Quit calling me!" The funny part for me, though, is that I remember being absolutely stunned that he even knew it was us. Did he recognize our voice? Did he have some sort of newfangled caller-identification technology? It did not even occur to us that, you know, nobody else in 1981 was requesting Cat's in the Cradle.
Anyway, missing Halloween hit me really hard. The job demands that I'm on the road and away from my family, and it's a deal that we all handle as best we can. But there are lines that should not be crossed. Halloween, in my mind, should not be crossed. Not now. I grew up on Halloween. I have spent too much time in my life thinking (and writing) about Halloween. I made myself a promise -- one of those Dad-to-self promises -- that I absolutely would never miss Halloween with my kids again, certainly not until they are past what the Peanuts gang called "tricks and treats" age.
Now, here it is, just one year later, and I'm stuck in Philadelphia, and it's gloomy, and it's cloudy and it's raining, and now this World Series is going to be delayed for another day. As you may have heard, they will not complete suspended Game 5 until baseball commissioner Bud Selig personally determines that the weather conditions are appropriate. I believe that's rule 27.30.28:
"No suspended World Series Game shall be resumed until the various weather conditions have met the standards of Bud Selig. In the event that Bud Selig is no longer able to function as commissioner of baseball, the rule reverts back to the normal standards set forth in various other places in the rulebook."
With Bud already sensitive, thanks to his well-intentioned but inevitably hapless decision to play ball despite the obvious approach of nasty weather*, I'm not sure when they will play baseball again. But it's not going to be today. That means Game 5 won't be completed till Wednesday, which would (if Tampa wins) push Game 6 back to Thursday which would (if Tampa wins again) push Game 7 back to Friday. And Friday is Halloween.
*I think there are mixed feelings about Bud's decision to play ball on Monday, and I also think that's right. Some think Bud's an idiot. Some think he's unlucky. Some think he handled it all as well as anyone could. I think there is truth in all those things.
My big problem with the decision is that, in the press box, it seemed obvious that a major rain storm was probably coming. The guy on television said that the rain would get heavier at about 10 p.m. Eastern (which it did, by the way -- this guy should be baseball's official meteorologist). The amateur radar readers in the press box unanimously felt like there was an awful lot of nasty green glow heading Philadelphia's way. It all seemed kind of obvious. I know Bud said that three different weather services told him that it was going to be light rain throughout the night and nothing more, but frankly I find that to be incredible -- I mean, if baseball hacks can at least see the POSSIBILITY of heavy rain coming, I would hope that people who go to Meteorology College or whatever could at least have given Bud a percentage chance that it would start pouring in two hours.
In any case, in my mind, the mistake was in starting the game. But, to be fair, he didn't have many good options. People have emailed and commented that he could have started the game 90 minutes earlier, and in another time he might have done that. But realistically, I suspect, you can't change times on Fox at the last minute -- I mean, Fox is giving baseball billions of dollars. You also can't do that to people who are spending thousands of dollars for tickets. You can't decide at the last minute to change the starting time on what might be the biggest sports moment in Philadelphia in a quarter century.** Plus, if his weather people didn't know it would pour TWO HOURS before it poured, how the heck would they have known early enough to make that decision?
**I do realize that my friend Gene Wojo over at ESPN points out that golf tournaments change times, and it's a good point. But I think it's just a bit off, too -- golf tournaments are played during the day anyway, there is no prime time television to deal with, no spectator work schedules being screwed with, plus, let's be honest, it's golf.
Then, once the game was started, there wasn't much Bud could do, either, except hope the rain stayed away. I think he did handle it as well as possible at that point. They couldn't keep playing in those conditions -- after five and a half innings they HAD to stop. And yet they really could not stop the game earlier because the score was 2-1 Philadelphia after five innings. And no matter what Bud Selig says, he does not really have the power to impose an everlasting rain delay. He would have been forced at some point to declare the Phillies the winner and the 2008 World Series champions and that would have made the All-Star Game snafu of a few years ago seem like a happy memory.
Bud was unlucky, sure but I also would argue that the luckiest break of Bud Selig's career as commissioner happened when the Rays scored a run in the sixth to tie the game. Anyway, the blunder was in starting the game and Bud knew it too -- I say this based on his wonderful post-mess press conference in which he tried to blame everyone on planet earth for this happening and then offered up several Al Haig "I'm in charge" moments. I cannot get enough Bud Selig.
So back to the point at hand. There is a chance -- somewhat remote at this point, but getting moter all the time -- that there will be a World Series Game 7 on Halloween night. And my Dad promise will be tested. The hope is that it won't come to that. But there's a chance that I will have to choose between Game 7 of the World Series and Halloween night at home.
If that conflict happens, well, I think you know what I'm going to do.