With patience, decision-makers weather rain

INSIDE PITCH

July 05, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

Jim Evans, Roland Hemond and Paul Zwaska didn't have any doubt that the game between the Orioles and Minnesota Twins would be played last night. They just didn't know when.

The three principals in the decision-making process knew from the time they arrived at Camden Yards that they were in for a long day. They had a long-range weather forecast that was in their favor, but the short-term prognosis was far less predictable. The result was a delay of 2 hours, 47 minutes, pushing the starting time from 5:05 to 7:52 p.m.

Technically, the game was in the hands of Evans, chief of the umpiring crew, because this is the only visit the Twins make to Baltimore this year. But there was an exception or an oversight in this case.

"I was unaware of that," Evans said, when informed this was Minnesota's only trip to Baltimore. "Normally, it's the home team's call until the lineup cards are exchanged at home plate -- unless it's the last time the teams play in a particular city.

"We haven't received any notification [of the shift in authority] from the league yet, so it was Baltimore's decision," said Evans, who also said such notification wouldn't have changed the way the situation was handled.

"The only timetable we have is the curfew," he said, referring to the league rule that prohibits beginning an inning after 1 a.m. "You wouldn't wait long enough to risk the game being suspended because of the curfew. And we always try to take into consideration the best interests of the home team. They had a full house and, if it's at all possible, you don't want to lose the crowd."

Hemond, the Orioles' general manager, said there was never any doubt about waiting out the elements. "First of all, with the [strike-] shortened schedule, there are fewer dates to make up games," he said.

"Since we had the earlier starting time and a forecast the rain was going to stop, it was a no-brainer, really [to wait out the rain]," said Hemond.

Armed with information supplied by Zwaska, the Orioles' head groundskeeper, Evans agreed with the decision to pass on an earlier window of opportunity to start the game. "We had been told there would be a 20-30 minute break -- what we call a 'sucker hole' -- where we could start, but then have to stop because of heavier rain.

"In the old days we wouldn't have had that information. But with the modern technology today, you pretty much know what to expect," said Evans. "Paul's got a [satellite] dish hooked into the radar and he does a good job of keeping us informed."

The delay was naturally irritating to the crowd, a good bit of which had dispersed before play began. But Evans said it was unavoidable.

"Heck, I was hoping to get back to the Hyatt in time to see the fireworks myself," said Evans. "But there really wasn't any other way to handle it."

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