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Delay Gratification
Steve Rushin
May 29, 2006
I've been saving this column for a rainy day. This spring the Giants had consecutive home rainouts for the first time since 1961, the Reds were rained out of batting practice for a full week, and the Red Sox have been rained on in Boston all month in what is rapidly resembling Noah's Park. West Virginia State and Ohio Valley University recently endured the longest rain delay on record in NCAA or professional baseball history: eight hours and 54 minutes--a wet, tedious eternity that somehow calls to mind David Blaine.
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May 29, 2006

Delay Gratification

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Rizzuto (singing over a closeup of a female fan in the rain): "A pretty girl is like a memory...."

White (correcting him): "I think that's melody."

Rizzuto (impressed): "How do you know her name?"

Rain isn't perfect. A rain-delayed NASCAR telecast this spring, without a single lap driven, drew double the ratings of the NBA playoff game airing opposite it, a fact that doesn't flatter either sport.

And how many times have you dozed off during the Masters and awakened to see, to your astonishment, that Gay Brewer has seized the lead? Only after five minutes of befuddlement do you realize that you're watching ancient video and the tournament is in a rain delay.

During rainouts Red Sox fans get soaked twice. They pay up to $90 to park near Fenway and some Boston city councilmen now want lots to issue rain checks.

Knowing all this, I still don't relish the arrival of summer, when the bane of rain is plainly on the wane. I once spent a three-hour rain delay with Bill Murray at a minor league game in Brockton, Mass. Staring into a storm that would have mortified Magellan, Murray said darkly, "People are praying in Portuguese."

And I survived the famous Wimbledon rain delay of '96, in which British pop star Sir Cliff Richard--backed by Martina Navratilova, Virginia Wade and Conchita Mart´┐Żnez--serenaded spectators, many of whom danced in the rain: a tennisy waltz.

But my favorite rain delays were during Twins games at old Metropolitan Stadium, where, as a 13-year-old, I was a faceless foot soldier helping to drag the tarp on (Boo!) and off (Yay!) the infield.

Few thrills compare with being cheered and jeered as you sprint across a major league diamond. But for tarp-pullers, there is also the ever-present prospect of slipping on wet grass and falling beneath the tarpaulin, at which time your colleagues become a many-legged coroner, dragging a blue, rain-repellent sheet over your face. That's precisely the way I want to go--at a ballpark, in a Biblical rain, happily swallowed by a Venus fly tarp.

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