Friday, April 6, 2007

Story of the Week - April 2-6

Climate Change

I have fond memories of standing out on a Little League field with two turtlenecks on and shivering my way through an April game. Or being cold and wet on opening day at Shea (just last year), but the beginning of baseball season is supposed to mean that spring is finally here. This week it felt like Spring had disappeared.

It's the same week, ironically, that a doomsday report about Global Warming came out. The report warned that poor countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are likely to suffer the most from Global Warming, while rich countries like the United States continue to be the worst polluters. (Actually, China is the world's worst polluter, and they're likely to get even worse) These countries, of course, have inadequate resources to handle drought and coastal flooding. (We have the resources, just not the leadership)

The city of Cleveland, and their Indians, might welcome global warming at this point. They tries to play a 3 game series with the Seattle Mariners this weekend. Game 1 got to the 5th inning, after many delays. It finally took an injury to Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez and a Seattle player pointing out that he couldn't see the ball through the heavy snow to cancel that one. The reason they tried to play at all was because they knew the forecast for the rest of the weekend. And because this is the only time the Mariners are scheduled to visit Cleveland.

In Chicago, they cancelled because of forecast temperatures in the 20s. In New York, the Yankees and Devil Rays played through the snow. In Philadelphia, Washington, St Louis and even Atlanta, they played through temperatures in the 30s. And they're sitting in winter coats at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas for the Sunday night game.

The cold weather sparked a discussion about Major League Baseball's schedule-makers. Why play games in Cleveland and New York in early April when you can send the Indians and Yankees (and Phillies, White Sox, etc.) to places with warm weather like Los Angeles of Anaheim. San Diego, Arizona and Florida, and to places with domes like Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Toronto.

The argument in favor of this was made clear by this weekend's events. 3 cancelled games in Cleveland, snow and cold creating greater risk for injury (see Victor Martinez and Hideki Matsui) and fans being miserable (I love baseball, but can it be fun to watch your team lose 7-0 when it's 25 with the wind at RFK?) The argument against altering the schedule for cold weather is that this is just bad luck, just look at the week of beautiful weather we had to end March. Also, who's to say it won't be just as cold next week? Also, it was pretty cold in places like Atlanta and Texas this weekend, so nothing is guaranteed. And besides, the beauty of baseball is the constant change in conditions - different sized ballparks, different playing surfaces, different starting pitchers, etc. All of this is what makes it so hard to win 120 games in a season and impossible to hit .500.

I have a solution. Why not be flexible? If Thursday's forecast calls for a weekend of snow and 20 degree wind-chills in Cleveland, move the series to Seattle, play in the dome, and come to Cleveland in August or whenever the Indians were supposed to go to Seattle originally. I'm sure the Indians wouldn't have minded a cross country flight, especially if it meant keeping their all-star catcher in the line-up.

Also, a team like the Devil Rays, who play in a dome in a warm weather city, should NOT be allowed to request to start their season with a road trip to New York. (Yes, they actually did that, and they got their way)

Baseball is already reacting to the cold snap of this weekend. The Indians and Mariners will try for the third straight day to play 2 on Monday. And on Tuesday, they may fly to Los Angeles of Anaheim to play the Angels, instead of hosting the Angels on the frozen tundra of Jacob's field.

So next year we may see the Tribe open up in Seattle, Mets in Arizona and the Yankees in Tampa. And they'll send the Red Sox to the Metrodome and the White Sox to Skydome (sorry, Rogers Centre) and the Cubs to Milwaukee. And meantime in New York and Chicago and Cleveland and Boston they'll be talking about the record heatwave we're having and the ensuing apocalyptic doom of global warming and wouldn't it be great to go to a baseball game right now?

1 comment:

Harrison said...

The cities with the domes may not actually be good alternatives. ESPN reported a few days ago that the temperature in most of the domes is controlled with regards to the outside temperature. Take Milwaukee on last Saturday for example. It was 29 degrees outside but the air system in the stadium can only operate at 30 degrees above the outside temperature. Granted, 59 is much more playable than in Cleveland, but its still not ideal. Also, there are only ten teams in the West so that would really only solve the problem of 20 teams overall.

Look, it's one thing to completely ignore the climate problem we're in right now. But I agree with you, and when it affects the start of the baseball season, well that just gets me really mad.