MLB has a cold-weather dilemma

By Steve Sell
April 16, 2018

When the first pitch was supposed to have been thrown on Sunday at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, the temperature was 31 degrees, with a real-feel of 20 degrees.

Baseball was not meant to be played in these temperatures.

Fortunately, Royals officials had the good sense to postpone the game — a day after the Royals and Lon Angeles Angels finished in the snow on a chilly Saturday night.

The cold weather has been baseball’s hottest topic. I don’t think the Royals have hardly played any of their 13 games this season in what I would call “baseball weather.” It’s been cold for nearly every home game, and they have made road trips to frigid-weather venues like Detroit and Cleveland. Tonight they head to Toronto, which has a dome, and it has to be a relief for the hitters to swing a bat without being restricted by all their cold-weather garb and the pitchers won’t feel like they’re gripping a bar of soap.

Major League Baseball took a chance this year by starting its season on the earliest date ever, March 29. What it didn’t foresee was a unusual wave of cold weather that has gripped the country from coast to coast as we have been in a deep freeze for 3 weeks.

The result has been an avalanche of postponements. On Sunday alone, six of the 15 scheduled games were postponed either due to cold, rain or snow. It doesn’t make sense to play when the temperatures are in the 20s or 30s as fans aren’t going to show up and some of the games resemble a clown show. There have been many games played that shouldn’t have been. I saw the highlights of a game this week matching Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs, where the infielders couldn’t get their footing and all the players had hoodies on or masks covering their faces.

MLB has a number of options. There have been calls for years that the season is too long, as 162 games has been the norm for better than 50 years. It used to be 154, but in reality, it probably should be about 140.

But no way are the owners going to give up the extra dates and revenues, not when players are raking in millions and millions of dollars.

The only other solution, to avoid cramming in these postponed games, is make better use of the warm-weather cities, or teams that have domed stadiums.

In the American League, you have Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Houston, Seattle, Oakland and Texas as the warmer-weather venues. In the NL, Miami, Milwaukee, Arizona, San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles have preferred climates or domes. That’s 12 teams that should be given a heavy dose of home games through the first 3 weeks of the season.

I know there’s an argument that half the teams will play too many road games early in the season and that if they get off to poor starts they won’t be able to get back into their divisional races. But 3 weeks is just a tip of the iceberg when the season is 6 months long.

In the end, teams play 81 games at home and 81 on the road, so it all evens out.

It sure beats watching this brutal cold-weather baseball. Not to mention you have to think of the safety of the players. Finally, owners cringe at the sight of near-empty stadiums, not to mention their pocketbooks take a beating.

It’s something baseball had better take a long look at.


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