Baseball Rainout Rules
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Knowing who is in charge of a baseball game when it comes to weather issues is not always easy. Prior to the start of the game, the home team has the call on whether a game will be played. Once the lineup cards are exchanged at home plate, the decision on the game's status lies with the umpires for a regular season game. In any postseason game, the decision on whether a game will be played lies with the commissioner's office of Major League Baseball.
Prior to Game Time
When a baseball game is scheduled to be played at a major league stadium and rain has been coming down all day, the decision to call off the game lies with the home team. The decision must be based on the amount of water that is on the stadium grounds and the severity of the forecast. Most major league fields have excellent drainage systems and can withstand volumes of rainfall. However, drenching rains are not conducive to Major League Baseball and the home team must take the responsibility of calling the game if it is not safe for players or fans to be at the ballpark. When the game is rained out, it must be made up at a later date.
After the Game Has Started
Once the lineups are exchanged at home plate prior to the start of the game, the fate of the game lies solely with the umpires. If the rain comes as the game is in progress and the weather is deemed too severe to play, the umpire waves the players off the field and the ground crew covers the field with a tarp to make sure the field absorbs as little water as possible. These tarps cover the infield, but they don't cover the outfield and that area gets soaked during rainstorms. The umpires cannot call the game until the players have been off the field for at least 30 minutes. If the umpire deems the game cannot be played, the game is called. If the two teams have played 4 1/2 innings and the home team is ahead, it is an official game and a victory for the home team. If five innings have been played, and either team is ahead, the game is considered official and counted as a win for the team that is ahead. If the game has not reach 4 1/2 innings, the game is rained out and none of the player statistics count. If the game is tied after five innings and the game is rained out, the game resumes from the point that the rains came at a later date.
Postseason games that are impacted by rain are not played under regular-season rules. If either team is ahead after five innings or more, that team does not get a win if the game must be stopped. Instead, the game is picked up from the point that the rain came at a later date. Nine innings (or more if tied) must be played in all postseason games.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.