Monday, April 16, 2018

Baseball in the snow, rain, heat or gloom of night? Not exactly

It seems Major League Baseball would like to think of itself as the equivalent of the United States Postal Service.
Would Chicago baseball really be better if this monstrosity had been built nearly 30 years ago? Image provided by

You know, that jazz about snow, rain, heat or gloom of night not keeping the postman from fulfilling his rounds? Professional baseball teams began their 2018 season back on March 29 with the same theory that they weren’t going to let inclement weather prevent them from playing their games.

THAT’S NOT QUITE the reality of this season, which is now about two-and-a-half weeks old.

All throughout the East coast and Midwest – whose ball clubs are the heart-and-soul of professional baseball – there have been reports of teams playing in crummy weather (rain and snow) on occasion. Although the inclement weather has been more likely to cancel ballgames.

Just this weekend, the Chicago White Sox traveled to Minneapolis for what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins – only to have three of the games cancelled due to snow. No word yet on when those games will be made up – other than the fact that having to make up that many games in one shot will be an inconvenience later this season.
Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day across baseball, but ...

In fact, the White Sox have had four of their 16 scheduled games thus far called due to inclement weather. That’s one-quarter of the season.

IT’S NOT JUST the White Sox. The Chicago Cubs had their Opening Day last week delayed due to snow. On Sunday, their Wrigley Field game against the Atlanta Braves was postponed due to this weekend’s heavy rainfall. Which means we won’t get to see either Chicago ball club take part in the annual April 15 tribute to Jackie Robinson and professional baseball’s racial integration where everybody wears uniform number 42.
... since neither Chicago team played, ...

Some people might have rejoiced in the Saturday ballgame in which the Cubs came from behind to win 14-10. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon grumbled about the rain that soaked the playing field so thoroughly he was convinced the ballgame should never have been played.
... No. 42 locally remains with these two

Moments like this get a certain type of person all worked up in saying baseball is stupid for even bothering to play ballgames this time of the year. They should know better than to fight against Mother Nature, because she’s a tough ol’ broad who never loses.

Some argue baseball shouldn’t begin play until sometime in May. While others argue that the first few weeks of the season should all be played in southern or west coast cities – or in places where the locals built stadiums with the retractable roofs that could keep the field (and fans) dry while games take place.

IT’S AN ARGUMENT I really don’t buy into – largely because I could see how it would put teams at a disadvantage if they had to play the first few weeks of the season on the road.
The first ballgame ever in Toronto (1977) saw White Sox infielder Jack Brohamer having to be innovative to get across the snow-covered turf of Exhibition Stadium
Plus, I’m sure those west coast and southern cities with teams would complain about having to stage so many of their home games so early in the season – which would wind up with them being road-bound at season’s end. If they’re actually contending for a league pennant, that would seriously stink.

But why I really don’t get into the idea is the fact that, as I wrote earlier, those Midwestern and Eastern cities are the ones with the long-standing baseball franchises with history and tradition.
Sun-shiny days like this will be with us soon enough
Part of that “tradition” is that fans know if they’re going to attend an early-season game, you bundle up to cope with the weather. It’s part of the reason why baseball attendance goes up come June – that and the coming of summer break means kids attending a game can actually contemplate staying for the whole thing (10:30 p.m. is NOT an uncommon finishing time for a ballgame).

YES, IT WAS kind of freakish last week when on the same day the Cubs’ Opening Day game at Wrigley Field was delayed because of snow, the White Sox managed to play (their home Opening Day had been the week before, so it was just an ordinary ballgame).

Official attendance for that game was just over 10,000 tickets sold (which is probably mostly the season ticket base), although reports indicated only about 900 people showed up – and I saw one broadcast type who said her personal count of people in the stands was about 300.

It’s quirks like this that can make baseball and its fans interesting – far more than those people who think ball clubs are entitled to have 40,000-or-so capacity crowds for all 81 home games.

So no, I’m not for delaying the start of baseball. For I actually get a jolt from seeing regular-season games taking place in the cool of a Midwestern spring. I also see the presence of baseball as evidence that these outbursts of wintry-like weather are merely the final strands of winter – and that we’ll soon move on to complaining about the 100-degree temperatures and how “It’s too hot!” to live here.


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