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April 9, 2007 at 10:28 AM

Felix vs. Dice-K at Fenway

Just got back from Jacobs Field, which is still covered in a foot-and-a-half of snow on many parts of the field. There is, of course, a tarp covering the infield and they have removed snow from a portion of the outfield. Trouble is, it’s still snowing, the temperatures are getting a little warmer but hardly playable and…and…well, that’s it.
They’ve called off not only the games involving Seattle, but now, a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels due to start tomorow has been moved to a different city as well. The two options are Milwaukee or Houston. I’d take Houston, personally, but I’m sure it’ll go north just in time for a spring blizzard or something. The Indians leave here at 7 p.m., so they will obviously know by then. (Just found out at 11:33 a.m. PDT that it will be Milwaukee).
As for the Mariners, they are continuing to keep their rotation in order, meaning Jeff Weaver tomorrow in Boston and then Felix Hernandez on Wednesday against Red Sox ace Daisuke Matsuzaka in what is looking to be the pitching matchup of the year. Seriously, to get a duo like this squaring off at a setting like Fenway Park, with all the hype thrown in, is just too much to ask for this time of year. So, hats off to Cleveland for this one.
Hernandez told me moments ago that he’s very excited facing someone of Matsuzaka’s caliber. The just-turned-21-year-old learned a lot last season about going into pressure situations. His plan? Throw strikes and don’t overthrow. On eight days’ rest, the latter will be a challenge. Hernandez has never gone with this much rest between outings. Should be a great game to watch.
Thanks for all of your opinions on this matter. I got a nice email from a Cleveland area resident, Brian Krezman, who doesn’t think they should play any games in northern cities until at least mid-April. Krezman did want to point out that the “Lake Effect” snow the city has received is unusual this time of year, adding that his area (about 30 miles southwest of Jacobs Field) “only” received about three to four inches of snow.
Well, that’s not exactly a blizzard, but it’s about three to four inches more than most ballplayers want to play in. Here in Cleveland, three to four inches was about the daily total that kept accumulating in places. It was supposed to be up to roughly 13 inches total here as of this morning. Krezman did go on to say that: “I have discovered that a week or two makes almost no difference in scheduling things for the weather here in April/May. So I’ve stopped trying. Two years ago I had beautiful weather in April for 1st Communion and snow a week later for confirmation (on April 21st!) Where is our retractable dome anyway?”
Sorry Brian, that dome is in somebody’s imagination for now. I agree with Krezman that some days in early April here can be gorgeous. I visited my hometown of Montreal in early January and it was almost 50 degrees with green grass everywhere. But I guarantee you nobody was scheduling any ballgames outdoors. Point being, early April in Cleveland is unpredictable.
To “palcal” my supposed “buddy”, here are a few factoids for you. The Indians have had — or tried to have — 14 home openers since The Jake opened in 1994. Seven of them were scheduled before April 10 (my proposed minimum date as mentioned yesterday). Of those seven games, three of them (including Friday’s aborted opener) were played in temperatures of 38 degrees or less. One of them was in “scorching” 41 degree heat. Those are gametime temperatures and do not take into account wind chills or how badly the thermometer dropped throughout the game. For instance, the 2003 opener was played in 34-degree weather with 17 mile-per-hour winds. That leaves a windchill at about the mid or low 20s.
So, if you know that there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll be playing in, at best, 41-degree weather, with windchills in the 20s and 30s, why not wait until after April 10? Why take the chance, when temperatures that low can also lead to snow like we saw here this week?
Newsflash: that is not baseball weather. Snow or no snow.
Here’s some more “astute analysis” for you. The Indians have now had 11 home games banged in April over the last six seasons, including the seven they’ve just lost here involving Seattle and Los Angeles. Of those 11, nine of them have come before April 15. That’s not including all the other games teams were made to play in miserable conditions.
Frankly, if it was up to me, I would go with Krezman and not allow any games until at least April 15. But I tried to be diplomatic and go with April 10 to appease the traditionalists, tough guys, and argumentative types who just can’t bear the thought of waiting a few more days until the weather odds were on their side. And, in fact, the Indians have held seven of their Jacobs Field home openers on or after April 10.
The lowest temperature for any of those games was 41. The best was 66. As of noon here today, it was 31 and felt like 26 with the wind chill. But by Friday (a good day to start a weekend homestand) it’s supposed to be 50 and sunny. That would be on April 13 by the way. I’m not claiming to be a weather expert or have it all figured out. Just suggesting some common sense measures where everyone can give a little and reduce the chance of a disaster like this week.
In fact, here are all the gametime temperatures for Indians home games played April 10 or later since they moved to Jacobs Field (we won’t include 1995 because it was played in May after the players’ strike):
1997 — April 11…51 degrees
1998 — April 10…43 degrees
1999 — April 12…42 degrees
2000 — April 14…66 degrees
2004 — April 12…45 degrees
2005 — April 11…48 degrees
Have a good one.



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