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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 8, 2007 at 6:55 PM

Still snowing in Cleveland

So, it’s now just before 7 p.m. (PDT) here in Cleveland and the snow has tapered off a bit, but is still falling. I’ve seen plenty of players tonight walking to and fro in the Tower City Center and none of them think there will be any games tomorrow. Here’s the reason why. Even though it has “warmed” up a little, like into the 30s, the snow is still falling on Jacobs Field. None of us can see how they will get the field cleared off in time. And don’t let those predicted 36 degree gametime temperatures fool you. There is a very damp wind chill here that makes it feel like it’s in the 20s. When it’s that cold, the baseball played will be a joke. No one can stand around more than a few minutes — except for the guy pitching — without starting to stiffen up. That’s my two cents. This isn’t like football, where players can bulk up with sweaters and get away with crashing into opponents instead of finessing plays. Baseball is a finesse game. Putting players into a deep freeze will take away that step or two and make — as Richie Sexson puts it — a mockery of the game.
By the way, if they do decide to go ahead with these mockeries of the game, FSN will be there to televise both. That’s the official word. So, cross your fingers. At least you can. I doubt the players will be able to if they’re on the field late tomorrow afternoon.
Many of you have written in to argue my stance on starting home openers later in the season for northern teams without a covered stadium. I can tell you from experience, growing up in the coldest of weather, that the difference of even a few degrees is huge when it comes to whether or not you see snow like we had here this weekend. The argument shouldn’t be that Cleveland can fluke things off every now and then and have 75-degree weather on April 1. It should be that, one year out of every three, we’re likely to see weather like this. And that should not be able to severely impact the season of another team like the Mariners.
I know all about baseball tradition. Get over it. We are experiencing some unusual climate changes throughout the world right now. We’ve all seen it, no matter where we live. Gambling like this on the schedule, for the sake of appeasing some fans who don’t want to wait another 10 days for their home opener because of tradition, is simply absurd. Will those Cleveland fans want to see four “home” games made up partially as doubleheaders in Seattle in late September if the Indians are battling Detroit for the final playoff spot? Didn’t think so. This is a city with a proud baseball tradition. As is New York, Chicago and Detroit. My hunch is that fans in those places, while they may object at first, will not mind seeing their home openers bumped back a little when they actually think about it. Never mind the packed houses at the home opener. What about the second and third-day dropoffs that occur, especially in places with unseemly weather? Will attendance go up on those days if the temperature is a little warmer? Who knows? You won’t unless you try it. I guarantee you they’ll outdraw what Cleveland managed these past three days.
But if not, if tradition prevents MLB from doing the logical thing, can we just settle for the common sense of scheduling these early dates against division rivals? Please! How tough would that be? That way, if the games can’t be played on a particular day, there will be plenty of other dates to get things right. Yes, it could rain on July 20 if the Mariners were making their one and only visit to Cleveland on that date. But I’d rather take my chances with that than gamble on it not snowing in Cleveland the first week in April. This isn’t rocket science. If you’re going to foster rivalries with the unbalanced schedule, then the opening series of a season should be a good enough time to use those rivalries. Unless, of course, it really is all about money. Unless MLB figures teams can make more money packing the house for meaningless rivalries like Cleveland-Seattle simply because it is the home opener. That way, the logic goes, you can save the rivalries to generate more packed houses down the road. After all, why waste a rivalry when you’re guaranteed to pack the house for at least one date in early April? Sounds great. Just explain it to Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Felix Hernandez and others when they’re in the middle of back-to-back doubleheaders with the season on the line come September.
Come to think of it, they’d probably take that scenario. But everyone else shouldn’t have to.



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