Before I share my MLB power rankings, I wanted to take a second to share my opinion on the decision to rule the Aug. 9 Orioles-Nationals game a suspended one that would be picked up with the Orioles leading 5-2 and batting with one out and two runners on base in the top of the sixth. The O’s had scored five runs in the top half of the fifth inning. The Nats scored their two runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out, two-run homer by Starlin Castro.
With the O’s batting in the top of the sixth, Dwight Smith Jr. and Chance Sisco walked with a fly out by Austin Hays sandwiched in between. A torrential downpour took place, and the grounds crew was ordered by the umpires to put the tarp on.
This is where the show really began. I have been watching baseball for about 63 years. I have never seen a funnier scene as when the grounds crew began to roll out the tarp. Somehow — and I am not quite sure of how this was even possible — when the crew had last put the tarp back on the thick metal roller, the tarp had never been rolled up properly.
As the crew on Aug. 9 attempted to roll it out, it was clear to anyone watching that this was going to be a combination of the Keystone Cops and the Marx Brothers all rolled into one. Between rolling out an improperly stored tarp and realizing it was all tangled up, it must have taken close to 20-25 minutes to actually get the tarp laid out.
During all that time, the purpose of rolling out a tarp to cover the dirt portions of the field was literally lost and the infield turned into puddles and mud.
Let’s look at a subsection of Rule 3:00 regarding suspensions:
(c) The umpire in chief shall be the sole judge as to whether and when play shall be suspended during a game because of unsuitable weather conditions or the unfit condition of the playing field; as to whether and when the play shall be resumed after such suspension; and as to whether and when a game shall be terminated after such suspension. He shall not call the game until at least thirty minutes after he has suspended play. He may continue the suspension as long as he believes there is any chance to resume play. The umpire in chief shall at all times try to complete a game. His authority to resume play following one or more suspensions of as much as thirty minutes each shall be absolute and he shall terminate a game only when there appears to be no possibility of completing it.
What’s missing here is any liability for the grounds crew representing the home team causing a game to be suspended. This game clearly should have been forfeited by the Nationals — for the inept way in which they last stored the trap, for starting a game with that tarp situation and for their abject failure in preserving the condition of the playing field.
I understand that nothing in what I just quoted subjects the team to forfeiture. The game will be picked up Aug. 14 with the Orioles batting in the top of the sixth inning before the regularly scheduled game. Earlier under Rule 3:00, the rules list a litany of things the umpires need with respect to the grounds crew — and yet, nowhere is the storage of the tarp mentioned.
It just seems in a season where everyone is jumping through multiple hoops in order to play 60 games — my God, the Cardinals are 2-3, having played just five games — it seems the storage of said tarp at Nationals Park should if nothing else now result in a brief check of all tarps before a game starts, especially a game when the weather forecast is calling for a mid-game storm.
Here are my Week 4 MLB power rankings:
1. Oakland Athletics (12-4, No. 5 last week)
GM Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin have an almost perfect team — pitching, speed, defense and power. It’s all there, and they jump to the top based on a 7-0 week.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (11-5, No. 2)
Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger form quite a 1-2 punch, but what about Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw? Lefty Jose Urias is becoming very important piece of the Dodgers’ puzzle.
3. New York Yankees (10-6, No. 1)
Gerrit Cole’s numbers don’t quite match his fabulous seasons in Houston yet, but Masahiro Tanaka has a 1.17 ERA in two starts totaling 7.2 innings. J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery aren’t world beaters. James Paxton’s last start in St. Petersburg, Fla., helped inform whether this Yankees team could become special — and he got into the seventh inning with a three-run lead, only to give up homers to Brandon Lowe and Mike Brosseau (but he did strike out 11).
4. Chicago Cubs (10-3, No. 6)
First-year skipper Davis Ross is benefiting greatly from some other worldly WHIPs from his rotation: Yu Darvish (0.88), Kyle Hendricks (0.93), Jon Lester (0.55) and Alec Mills (0.77). Tyler Chatwood saw his WHIP balloon to 1.40 after a horrendous outing against Kansas City in which he allowed 11 hits and eight earned runs in 2.1 innings.
5. Minnesota Twins (10-6, No. 3)
The Twins were good without Josh Donaldson last year, and now his calf is ailing again and it has put his season in jeopardy. When Rich Hill was originally signed last December, he was counted on to be a difference-maker in 65-75 innings during the second half of the season. With the pandemic, he got fully healthy for the start of the season but has twice had to be scratched. At this point, he is more of a tease than anything else. With Donaldson and Hill contributing, a good Twins club could have been great. Now they are just good. Good enough?
6. Atlanta Braves (11-6, No. 4)
Despite the big loss of Mike Soroka, the Braves look every bit the big dog of what was thought to be a very tough National League East. To get to the World Series, GM Alex Anthopoulos will have to make a shrewd trade for one of the best available starting pitchers. Alex Cobb could be a target if he has three or four good starts leading up to the deadline.
7. Tampa Bay Rays (8-8, No. 8)
Manager Kevin Cash’s club is off to a frustrating start, due in large part to the stars of the rotation — Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell — being greatly diminished. Those three have a combined 1-2 record with ERA’s of 5.40, 5.56 and 3.38, respectively, in a total of 36 innings.
8. Colorado Rockies (11-4, No. 13)
Manager Bud Black’s club is the big surprise in the early going of the baseball season, and in their first 15 games the Rockies may very well have played themselves into the expanded postseason. Charlie Blackmon is off to a torrid start, batting .458 with 27 hits and a 1.187 OPS. How Black has his quartet of starting pitchers all doing well is an amazing magic act.
9. Cleveland Indians (10-7, No. 7)
Zach Plesac was sent packing back to Cleveland in a rental car after he broke protocols by going out of the hotel in Chicago. He must quarantine for 72 hours.
10. San Diego Padres (9-7, No. 10)
Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet look like world beaters atop the rotation, and Zach Davies and Garrett Richards aren’t exactly chopped liver. Eric Hosmer missed about 10 games with an injured list stint for gastritis, but he’s back now. Here’s Manny Machado’s stat line: .213/.314/.443.
11. New York Mets (7-9, No. 16)
12. Chicago White Sox (8-8, No. 12)
13. Washington Nationals (4-7, No. 11)
14. Houston Astros (6-9, No. 9)
15. St. Louis Cardinals (2-3, No. 14)
16. Milwaukee Brewers (6-7, No. 18)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (4-6, No. 17)
18. Texas Rangers (6-8, No. 20)
19. Cincinnati Reds (7-9, No. 15)
20. Boston Red Sox (6-9, No. 19)
21. Toronto Blue Jays (5-8, No. 21)
22. Arizona Diamondbacks (6-10, No. 24)
23. Miami Marlins (7-3, No. 30)
24. Detroit Tigers (8-5, No. 27)
25. Baltimore Orioles (7-7, No. 23)
26. Kansas City Royals (7-10, No. 28)
27. San Francisco Giants (8-9, No. 25)
28. Los Angeles Angels (5-11, No. 22)
29. Seattle Mariners (6-11, No. 26)
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (3-13, No. 29)