By Daniel I. Dorfman–
There are times Ozzie Guillen drives you up the wall with inane statements. Then there are the times he is absolutely right. Yesterday, Ozzie hit the nail on the head.
With snow falling on the shores of Lake Erie, Guillen said it was “very stupid” to start the season in Cleveland. How true. Watching the Sox players having a snowball fight as they were at Progressive Field on Thursday is fun to look at, but highlights the greater problem. The Opening Day schedule leaves one hoping Major League Baseball would hire a meteorologist.
To be fair, I recognize creating 81 home and 81 road games for 30 teams in this era of an unbalanced schedule and interleague play will generate some quirks. Moreover, it is not realistic to ask all the teams in warm weather climates or domes to have excessive home games in April. They have a right to take advantage of the summer as well when kids are out of school just as much as any other team. Finally, there are no guarantees anywhere on weather in Chicago or any other northern climate. I’ve been to Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular home openers in a T-shirt and shorts some years, a winter coat and gloves in others.
All that being said, this year’s Opening Day schedule is a head scratcher. It is an issue every year and never seems to be corrected.
While the White Sox and Cleveland will apparently avoid frozen weather today, it was only in 2007 when the Indians were forced to have “home” games in Milwaukee because of an April blizzard. At Wrigley Field today, the Cubs and Pirates had an ominous forecast over their head and it had nothing to do with rain. Call me goofy but we need to see snow shovels at ballparks as much as we need to see Rod Blagojevich.
The weird scheduling permeates throughout the majors. While it is supposed to be 78 in San Diego, the Padres are opening up in St. Louis. In the American League, the Yankees opened up at home yesterday against the Tigers, but this weekend they might have to dodge a Nor’easter. Meanwhile the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim open at Kansas City.
Compounding the silliness is when two teams are playing each other when their home parks should be taken advantage of at this time of year. Doesn’t anyone else find it strange when San Francisco plays at Los Angeles or Seattle (Safeco Field is a retractable dome) plays at Oakland?
With the internal economics of the game being what they are there is no point in pining for a season that doesn’t start so early or finish so late. That ship has long since sailed. And there is nothing written that baseball has to be played in idyllic summer temperatures. What team doesn’t want to be playing in late October? Sox fans did not mind the damp and dreary conditions of Game 2 of the 2005 World Series.
Still, baseball is not football. The game is at its best when temperatures are not accompanied by wind chill factors. Basic adjustments to at least minimize the possibility of bad weather interrupting home openers, but that element of common sense seems to slip by MLB officials.
Maybe one day the schedule makers will discover the Weather Channel on their cable system. They sure don’t seem to know it is there right now.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.