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If you have been attending Major League Baseball games for any great length of time, you know that feeling of dread and disappointment that washes over you. You look up and see monstrous clouds in the sky. You start to hear the roars of thunder and possibly even flashes of lightning.
You know in your gut that this game is about to be rained out. What are your options? Do you get your money back? Keep reading below to learn more about rainouts and the rules that apply to them.
The standard answer is NO you do NOT directly receive your money back when a baseball game is rained out. However, Major League Baseball’s policy does issue what they call a “rain-check”. This means that you can use your ticket for free admittance to a game at a later date at no further cost to you.
What is a Rainout in Baseball?
Rainouts have been around as long as the game of baseball itself. A rainout in baseball occurs when a game is cancelled due to rain or the threat of severe rain. Baseball games will usually continue as normal in light to moderate rain, but heavy rain and/or lightning can cause rainouts or at the very least rain delays.
A game is considered a “rainout” if at least four and a half innings are not completed (if the home team is leading). If this visiting team is leading, then five full innings must be played to make the game “official”. Fans cannot get a cash refund but can present their “rained-out” ticket any other regular season game for that home team.
Some Rules of Rainouts and Rain Delays
Here are some of the many rules of the game of Baseball Rainouts and Rain Delays:
- Before the game begins, the home team’s manager decides whether or not a game should be canceled due to rain or other bad weather like snow or hail.
- Once the home team manager hands in his lineup card to the home-plate umpire, the responsibility of deciding on whether the game should be played lies completely on the crew chief of that umpiring team.
- In the Major League Baseball postseason, the decision on whether a game can be played lies solely with the MLB Commissioner’s office.
- When bad weather conditions move in, the umpire is required to wait at least seventy-five minutes to see if conditions will improve enough to continue the game. This waiting period is properly referred to as the “rain delay”. Many umpires choose to wait much longer than the required seventy-five minutes, and some wait several hours to see if weather conditions will improve.
- During these rain delays, umpires remove all players from the field of play and the home team’s grounds crew quickly puts a tarp on the infield. This tarp protects the infield dirt and pitcher’s mound from excessive wetness and damage during the rainstorm. Funnily enough, lots of players enjoy running and sliding on the wet tarps to fight off boredom during a rain delay.
- If the game is deemed a rain out before it even starts, the rule is simple: That game will be made up at a later date and time. Most of the time the two teams will attempt to play a double-header the very next day.
- If the game has already begun, the rules get a bit hairy and extensive. If the top of the fifth inning and has been completed and the home team is winning, the game can be declared complete. If the game is tied, then the game is considered suspended and will be resumed usually the next day.
- A funny scene about rainouts happened in the legendary baseball movie “Bull Durham”. The Bulls had been on a long losing streak so their catcher Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) breaks into the minor league stadium and turns on the sprinklers to purposely cause a rainout for the next day’s game.
- Many Major League Baseball teams have opted to build domed stadiums or stadiums that have a retractable roof. This is done for the comfort of all players and fans but is done mainly to eliminate rainouts and other game cancellations. Domes are particularly helpful in cold and rainy climates (Seattle, Toronto, Milwaukee, etc.)
Notable Rainouts in Baseball History
Game 1 of the 1982 National League Championship Series (NLCS) was rained out between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves. What is interesting about this game is that the Braves were ahead 1-0 and needed to get only two more outs in the top of the fifth inning for the game to be considered “official”. However, mother nature disagreed, and the rain came down in buckets. The game had to be started over from scratch the next day and the Cardinals got a fortunate 7-0 victory.
Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was the first postseason game that brought on a new rule for Major League Baseball. The new rule states that all postseason games must be considered suspended (and resumed from that point in the game) and never started over from scratch. The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series, but both teams are a part of baseball history due to their participation in this rule change.
Final Thoughts about Rainouts
Have you ever attended a baseball game that was rained out or rain delayed? Did you make good use of your “rain-check” ticket and attend another game free of charge? How do you feel about Major League Baseball’s “rain-check” policy? Interestingly enough, this policy been around since way back in the 1870’s!
Thankfully, each Major League Baseball team plays eighty-one home games per season so there are many opportunities to take in another game when bad weather strikes. I hope this article on Baseball game Rainouts has been of help to you. Thanks so much for reading my Baseball Blog.