Thursday, August 31, 2017

NPB Game Suspended After Flock-of-Birds Delay

8/30's NPB (Japan) Eagles-Lions game at Kobo Park Miyagi in Sendai was suspended due to rain and a flock of birds that refused to leave the stadium, ultimately leading to a call of animal abandonment.

Birds encircle players at Kobo Park Miyagi.
With the Saitama Seibu Lions leading 8-4 heading into the bottom of the 8th inning, the Tohuku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who call Kobo Park Miyagi home and play alongside Saitama Seibu in the NBP's Pacific League, scored four times before rain put a halt to play.

As the delay concluded and umpires Kimihiro Akimura,  Masuda Shohei, Tetsuo Yamaji, and Argana Shoji prepared to resume play, a flock of birds descended on the stadium—perhaps under the impression, during the rain delay, that the game had ended—flying in circles and disrupting the defensive players. After pulling players off the field, stadium personnel attempted to chase the birds into the outfield before shutting off the lights in an attempt to get the flock to leave.

Kobo shut off its lights to coax the birds away.
By that time, however, the attempted bird removal delay—which at one point involved a drone dispatched to patrol the outfield sky—had spanned past the 40-minute mark and hadn't yet proven successful, resulting in an ultimate decision to call off the game, leading to its suspension or, what in OBR, would be Rule 7.02(a):
A game shall become a suspended game that must be completed at a future date if the game is terminated for any of the following reasons:
Kobo's scoreboard says: The Game is Over.
Before we leave this one to the birds, which is a situation not explicitly addressed in the rulebook, note that OBR 7.02(a)(6) mandates the game shall become suspended if play is terminated with the score tied: "It is a regulation game that is called with the score tied."

Finally, let's review what happens if a ball were to strike a bird during play. In sum, a batted or thrown ball remains live and in play, while a pitched ball becomes dead ("no pitch"):
If a batted or thrown ball strikes a bird in flight or other animal on the playing field, the ball is considered alive and in play, the same as if had not touched the bird or animal.
If a pitched ball strikes a bird in flight or other animal on the playing field, the pitch is nullified and play shall be resumed with the previous count. 
Seagulls show up late in San Francisco.
Examples: In 2009, a group of Cleveland-area gulls helped give the home team a walk-off victory by distracting Royals outfielder Coco Crisp on a line drive to center field. One seagull was struck by the batted ball as it attempted to fly away; the batted ball was kept alive and in play. Meanwhile, Randy Johnson in 2001 threw a pitch that struck a bird flying by. Both the ball and bird were declared dead, and the circumstance of a pitched ball striking a bird was added to the MLB Umpire Manual shortly thereafter.

The Japanese phalarope (link is to the North American Audubon Field Guide, although red and red-necked phalaropes are two phalarope species that inhabit the Japanese Empire's coastal region; Sendai is a coastal city in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture) is known to engage in circling behavior as displayed in Sendai on Wendesday: "In courtship, female flies in wide circle, calling."

Gulls eat popcorn at Oakland's Coliseum.
In Major League Baseball, perhaps the bird with greatest invasion potential is the San Francisco Bay Area seagull, which has been feasting on the discarded peanuts and Cracker Jack of AT&T Park ever since the formal dedication of McCovey Cove. The gulls' usual MO is make an appearance late in a Giants game, usually the 9th inning when fans are filing out, leaving behind food and other treats for the eastern Pacific Coast's scavenging fowl. Seagulls have also been spotted in other ballparks near the water, including in Oakland, San Diego, Seattle, and at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Wrap: Tohoku Raketten Golden Eagles vs. Saitama Seibu Lions, 8/30/17 | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Eagles-Lions game is interrupted, suspended by a flock of birds (J-Sports)


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