Oct
08
2007

Going buggy: Should a baseball game be delayed by midges?

Yankee beater: Millions of midge bugs threw the New York Yankees off the game Friday night in their playoff game in Cleveland. Some Yankee players and fans are complaining that the bugs were an unfair homefield advantage and that the game should have been delayed while they swarmed.
Yankee beater: Millions of midge bugs threw the New York Yankees off the game Friday night in their playoff game in Cleveland. Some Yankee players and fans are complaining that the bugs were an unfair homefield advantage and that the game should have been delayed while they swarmed.
They find plenty of things to argue about on sports talk radio, but this is a new one: Should a game be called or delayed on account of bugs?

New York Yankees fans, and some players, are upset that umpires didn’t delay their playoff game against the Cleveland Indians last week when a huge swarm of midges – bugs sort of like mosquitoes – overtook the field.

New York’s pitcher at the time, Joba Chamberlain, hit a batter with a pitch and threw two wild pitches during the eighth inning while he was being buzzed by all the bugs. One of those wild pitches allowed Cleveland to score the tying run and send the game into extra innings, where the Indians ended up winning in the 11th. One Indian batter was able to smack a hit while at bat during the bug flurry.

Umpire Bruce Froemming said that he never considered stopping the game and after about 45 minutes, all the bugs were gone. But the intense blast of bugs lasted for just about 10 minutes. Chamberlain was sprayed with bug repellant twice during the half inning, but it did little to help.

Why were the bugs suddenly showing up for the game? Midges like to breed on warm fall nights near bodies of water. Cleveland’s Jacobs Field is right alongside Lake Erie. Also, they’re attracted to light, and a Major League baseball park has a lot of those burning during a night game. Midges are a common sight in Cleveland on June and July evenings, but not a welcome on in October the Yankees.

Personally, I’m a Yankee hater and love to see any new and creative ways for them to get beat. What do you think about the bug controversy? Share your thoughts here at Science Buzz.

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Johnny Angel's picture
Johnny Angel says:

I will admit to being an avid Indians fan, but that doesn't effect my thoughts on this subject. I'd be of the same opinion if the exact same thing happened to C. C. Sabathia in Yankee Stadium. Of course Bruce Froemming was right.

Who on this planet doesn't know that on a warm summer or fall evening bugs can be present - sometimes in great quantities. And bugs don't only go after just one player or one team (When it comes to baseball, midges tend to remain fairly neutral). In the great outdoors, bugs are not unlike the wind - they come, they go, they ebb, they flow. And no one (umpire, player, team owner, league official or network executive) has any control over them.

The better players have the ability to maintain their concentration and tough it out, just as you have to tough it out when it's too hot, too cold or too loud. (Can you imagine hearing Bob Gibson or Nolan Ryan cry that he couldn't get the job done because the bugs bothered him?)

Some will say that this is the same as rain or snow and the game shold be delayed, but they are missing an important point. A wet ball due to rain and the inability to see during a snowstorm are SAFETY issues and are therefore legitimate reasons to delay a game.

If one of your players is such a baby that he can't deal with the bugs, then take him out and put in someone who can. Torre did not have to stick with Joba Chamberlain. He could have gone with a pitcher with a greater ability to concentrate and tough out a less than ideal environment. He did not and the Yankees paid the price.

posted on Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:20pm

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