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NY Yankees: Blown forecast? (Or divine intervention?)
DC forecast: Can we catch a break?

Andrew Freedman @ 12:04 AM

It was a strange sight in New York last week, where Game Two of the American League Playoffs between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers was postponed due to rain that didn't begin until long after the game was called.

Normally, sporting officials from Little League parents to Major Leaguers are criticized for having too little caution in the face of advancing thunderstorms, refusing to call players off the field until lightning is within striking distance. Lightning and sporting events is a major hazard, and I certainly don't want to argue that waiting for nature's fireworks to light up the Bronx is the proper thing to do. However, this cancellation was, according to press accounts, surreal.

Jason Samenow's Forecast


Forecast Confidence: MediumSlow clearing. The pesky upper low to our south will continue promoting damp easterly flow -- at least through midday (despite high pressure building in from the north). By afternoon, the sun could break out but it's not a sure thing. High temps will be a bit warmer -- low 60s if it remains overcast to as high as 70 if we got some sun. Overnight, clearing is likely, with lows near 50.

Columbus Day

Forecast Confidence: MediumMuch improved. Finally we'll catch a break as high pressure dominates our weather. Expect partly to mostly sunny skies, and highs 75-80.

Check back tomorrow for the complete week ahead forecast which involves some chilly air by the end of the week.

Conspiracy theorists accused the Yankees of forcing Major League Baseball officials to cancel the game in the face of a light rain that was barely worthy of putting down the tarp, as well as forecasted stronger storms later in the evening.

Communication broke down between MLB officials and the visiting Detroit Tigers. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his team warming up on the field for what he thought was a delayed 10 PM start (the game was originally scheduled for 8:05) while the Yankees, aware of a cancellation, were already on their way home.

As Leyland told reporters, referring to Yankeees manager Joe Torre, "Torre's home having a glass of wine with his wife, and I'm checking the bullpen to make sure [Pitcher Justin] Verlander's getting ready."

"I know that there was certainly an obvious mistake in the communication," Leyland said. "I want to emphasize that it's going to have no bearing on whether we win or lose the series. So there's no big controversy here, but it was handled very poorly. I mean, it's very strange when my pitcher is in the bullpen warming up and their pitcher is on the freeway going home."

Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner said his team didn't have any better information than the visiting club. "I think we should have played," he told Newsday. "We should have made up our minds earlier."

It's not clear what weather information MLB officials were basing their decision on, although some reports indicated they were consulting at least two different weather forecasts in making their decision. My guess is they were using one or more private weather forecasting firms which provide specialized forecasts for sporting events, but which specific service the Yankees use is unknown to this reporter.

Jimmie Lee Solomon, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, told Newsday that officials decided that the second wave of rain forecast to move through was going to be too substantial to allow a full nine innings to be played. That rain did in fact arrive around 11, making the decision justified, if comically bungled.

The story illustrates a common dilemma for forecasters and decision makers. Taking action to avoid impending inclement weather, such as storms approaching a stadium, is often the more difficult choice to make since a postponement or cancellation will anger people involved in the event and possibly lead to a "cry wolf" situation if the forecast doesn't verify.

I saw this on a small scale last weekend while camping with one of my friends in Wisconsin. I observed a developing thunderstorm approaching the campground, and herded friends away from the campfire and into the van for protection from the lightning before the heavy rain began. I was mercilessly ridiculed for my abundance of caution, much like the MLB officials in New York. "Andrew, no one other than you is afraid of lightning," "Andrew, you're a momma's boy," "Andrew: Where are your balls?" (Note: Don't try to oppose an entire improv comedy team by yourself, even if they're your friends).

Of course, the viewing public wasn't watching my every move in Bong State Recreation area (that's really its name, and um, was part of the reason we went there), but I like to think I could've made a similarly unpopular but likely correct call in NYC.

Interestingly, in the wake of the storm, the Yankees never won another game.

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