In the series final against the Brewers, the Cardinals game was delayed for rain with the Brewers ahead 5-3 after the Visiting Brewers completed the top of the 7th Inning. Then, after a 1 hour and 8-minute delay, the game was “called” and the Brewers declared the winner. Such an action is extremely rare in today’s MLB as even games with one inning remaining are usually replayed. However, under the Official MLB Baseball Rules, the game was allowed to be declared final – even if such a result is unfair to the Cardinals. Was this decision correct under the Rules?
Under MLB Baseball Rule 7.01(c) a game which has had 5 innings completed with the visiting team leading can be a “called” “regulation” game. However, in the case of the most recent Cardinals game, the Brewers were permitted to complete the Top of the 8th Inning; thus shouldn’t the Cardinals be permitted to bat in the 8th Inning for the game to be called?
MLB Baseball Rule 7.02 states that
(a) A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for . . .
(5) Weather, if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead.
By calling the game, MLB is interpreting Rule 7.02(a)(5) to mean that if (1) the game is suspended “while an inning is in progress” and (2) the visiting team did not “take the lead” in the inning when the game is called, then the game does not have to be deemed a “suspended game that must be completed at a future date” and the game can be a “called” or final game.
However, the rule does not specific when the visiting team needed to have taken their lead. Thus, one could alternatively interpret Rule 7.02(a)(5) to mean that if (1) the game is suspended “while an inning is in progress” and (2) the visiting team has at any point prior to the suspension “taken the lead," then the game must be deemed a “suspended game that must be completed at a future date.”
Regardless of MLB’s interpretation of Rule 7.02, calling the Cardinals/Brewers game without permitting the Cardinals to have their fair share of at bats (note that the Cardinals had scored in the 6th and 7th Innings) leaves a bitter taste in the Cardinals mouths. Hopefully, the Cardinals will not have to encounter this problem in the future.
Adam Van Grack is an attorney at the law firm of Longman & Van Grack, LLC practicing litigation, business law, and sports law. Adam is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals having attended Washington University in St. Louis for college and law school. Adam has been previously appointed as the Chair of a U.S. Olympic National Governing Body.