What Does a Rain Delay and Rainout Mean in Baseball?

What Does a Rain Delay and Rainout Mean in Baseball

A rain delay in baseball occurs when the weather conditions become unsafe for the players. The game pauses, a tarp goes onto the diamond, and the play resumes once the weather gets better. A rainout happens when the game has been canceled and will either conclude or continue at a later time. Here is the complete breakdown of rain delays and rainouts in baseball.


Common Names for a Rain Delay in Baseball

  • rain stopped delay
  • rainout
  • washout


Can Baseball Games Play in the Rain?

can baseball games play in the rain

Both Major League and Minor League Baseball Games can play in light rain. Games play through light rain as long as it does not impact the game and the storm will clear soon. By the time it takes to put on and off the tarp, it might stop raining, which means an unnecessary delay.


Other times, when there is heavy rain in the ninth inning, umpires might try and get the game through even with inclement weather. If the radar says that the rain will continue for a few hours, and there only needs one or two more outs to conclude the game, the umpires might let the players play through the weather even if the conditions are bad.


Overall, the game will continue as long as the pitcher’s mound, batting area, and infield dirt are not too wet. When the dirt around the pitcher’s mound becomes so wet that the pitcher can’t throw properly, a rain delay occurs. The same goes if the pitcher can’t get a good grip on the baseball with the rain, that becomes a safety concern.


What Causes a Baseball Rain Delay?

what causes a baseball rain delay

A rain delay occurs in a baseball game when the weather impacts an official game. Outside of rain, games can go into a hold for extreme fog, lightning, hail, and snow. These weather conditions make the game unsafe to play, so they go in as an official rain delay.


Typically speaking, the grounds crew already knows what the weather will be like for a game. They look at the amount of time the weather will stay around the stadium and give that estimate to the umpire crew. From there, the rain delay could be as little as 30 minutes to a few hours.


Can a Rain Delay Occur Before a Game?

can a rain delay occur before a game

A rain delay can occur before MLB games. For example, a Saturday 1:00 PM EST game against the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees can move the start to 3:00 PM EST if the rain looks like it will clear by then. The stadium’s ground crew can cover the diamond with a tarp to keep the dirt dry for gameday by going into a rain delay before a game. Umpires and official crew tend to call a rain delay early before the 1:00 PM EST start to allow baseball players to prepare for a delay in their warm-up routine.


What was the Longest Rain Delay in Baseball?

The longest rain delay in baseball took place on August 12, 1990. The match was between the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers, and the rain delay was 7 hours and 23 minutes.


Can a Rainout Occur in the Postseason or World Series?

can a rainout occur in the postseason or world series

During a postseason or world series game that goes into a rainout, the game will resume with where it left off. For example, let’s pretend that the Boston Red Sox are playing the Chicago White Sox for a playoff game. In the seventh inning, the game goes into a rain delay with the Red Sox up 5-3. If the game goes into a rainout, the action will pick up the next day, starting in the seventh inning, different from a regular-season game that would count the Red Sox as the winner by default.


In the 2008 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, Game 5 went into a rainout. Bud Selig, the MLB commissioner at the time, informed both squads that a game wouldn’t conclude a winner until all 27 outs occur. With the rain falling hard during the sixth inning, the game was suspended.


Since that rule change in 2008, the other time a postseason game got suspended was in 2011 with the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees. The game was suspended in the second inning due to bad weather at Yankee Stadium.


What are the Baseball Rain Delay Rules?

what are the baseball rain delay rules

A rain delay has everyone leave the field, and a big tarp goes over the baseball diamond to protect the mound and dirt from getting wet. Wet dirt can be a problem for pitchers and runners, so the grounds crew must cover this area quickly. The grass tends to drain well in the outfield, which is why they don’t cover it with a tarp. Finally, if a specific batter was up, let’s say with one ball and two-strike count, that play will resume once the rain delay concludes.


If the home team is leading after 15 outs (through 5 innings), then the game becomes an official game. An official match means that the home team wins the game by default if this rain delay becomes a rainout. If the visiting team can record 15 outs and is leading, they will win by default if the game goes into a rainout.


If the game goes into a rain delay and is eventually called before 15 outs, the game is canceled. A canceled game means that the game will be made up later, usually as a doubleheader, and fans can redeem their tickets for that game.


Can you Have More than One Rain Delay in a Major League Baseball Game?

You can have more than one rain delay during a Major League Baseball Game. There is no limit to the number of rain delays during a regular baseball game. Nor is there any rule on how long each rain delay should be.


Do Retractable Room Stadiums Have Rain Delays?

Do Retractable Room Stadiums Have Rain Delays

Retractable roof MLB stadiums won’t have a rain delay because they can cover the field with the roof. However, that doesn’t mean that delays can’t occur with a dome or retractable roof stadium. Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, had the power go out of the stadium in 2019 against the LA Angels. That power failure had the game delayed for a bit.


What Baseball Stadiums are in a Dome or Have a Retractable Roof?

What Baseball Stadiums are in a Dome or Have a Retractable Roof

There is nothing worse than planning a baseball trip with your buddies to arrive at the game for it to be a rainout. A rain check game means that the competition for that day won’t happen and will occur later. Some stadiums have a retractable roof or a dome, so you don’t have to worry about rainouts if you go to these ballparks below.



Rain Delay vs. Rainout Explanation

rain delay vs rainout explanation

A rain delay is a brief stoppage in action during a baseball game. Delays can be due to rain, lightning, hail, or snow. If the weather forecast looks promising in an hour or so, the game will go into a delay so it can finish at a later time.


A rainout, on the other hand, stops the game completely. A rainout can follow after a rain delay if the weather conditions don’t improve or if the game will resume much later at night. For example, if the start time for the rainout might begin at 11:00 PM EST, a rainout might occur since that game is too late and if one of the teams is traveling the next day and needs to get on a flight that next morning.


What Happens if a Game Goes into a Rainout After 5 Innings and the Game is Tied?

A tied game after the fifth inning that goes into a rainout is suspended and made on a different day. This game will either be made up as a doubleheader if the teams will play again or will be made up later in the year when both teams have an off-day.


Can a Rainout Occur Before a Game Starts?

A rainout can occur before a game starts if the weather doesn’t look good or if the start of the game will be too late to play. For example, let’s say that Sunday Night Baseball has a game at 8:00 PM EST with the Oakland Athletics and the San Diego Padres.


Does the Home Team Have a Say in a Rain Delay or Rainout?

Does the Home Team Have a Say in a Rain Delay or Rainout

The home team manager can decide if a game should occur with rain in the forecast, according to Rule 3.10. If the home manager determines that the game should not happen, then the game does not occur. Since this game is played at a home baseball stadium, the home manager can decide if the game should occur or not. If the home manager gives the umpire their lineup card, it is up to them to determine if the game should start on time if there is inclement weather.


Why is a Rain Delay or Rainout a Good Thing?

why is a rain delay or rainout a good thing

A rain delay, or a rainout, is suitable to protect the players. You don’t want players playing in unsafe conditions because that can lead to injuries. A rain delay or a rainout is good for the safety players on the field.


Another good thing about the delay or rainout is giving players rest. If the game goes into a rain delay, players can use that time to rest. If the game goes into a rainout, especially if it is called hours before the first pitch, players can use that extra time to relax and unwind since the season is virtually every day for months.


Finally, fans don’t want to sit through rainy baseball games. While it is always better to get into the stadium to watch baseball, sitting for hours in the rain is not pleasant, especially in early April.


Why is a Rain Delay or Rainout a Bad Thing?

why is a rain delay or rainout a bad thing

The fans are the biggest loser during a rain delay, especially a rainout. Fans traveling to a baseball game that goes into a rain delay may not see the game’s conclusion if it goes too late in the night. For example, a game might go into a rain delay around 9:30 PM and resume action at 11:30 PM, which means most fans would be gone by then if they need to work the next day.


A rainout also impacts fans because they might not make the makeup game during the season. Most makeup games occur during the week, which might be challenging to take off time from work or school. 


Conclusion: What is Rain Delay and Rainout in Baseball

In summary, baseball games can play in the light rain. However, a rain delay can happen if the weather conditions won’t improve for a while. The delay pauses the action, and a tarp goes over the diamond to keep it dry.


Meanwhile, a rainout means a cancellation of the game. A rainout can also conclude a game after five innings and one team is winning. However, a rainout can’t cancel a postseason or World Series game. Instead, they resume action the next day from the rainout.


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