Weather has been atrocious for spring sports

By Steve Sell
April 30, 2014

Wednesday’s ramblings...

• LOUSY WEATHER — We all know what Kansas weather in the springtime is like, but this year has borderlined on the ridiculous.

We haven’t had that much rain until the last couple of days, which of course the farmers need. This spring has been more about the wild fluctuations in temperatures and the never-ending wind machine.

One day last week, I was forced to turn on my air conditioner, far earlier than I would like. The next day, I fired the furnace back up. I’ve never been one to have allergies, but all the wind and temperature changes have played havoc, as my voice at times has disappeared or become nasally beyond belief. And most importantly, it has cut my golfing time down. I’ve never played so few rounds at this point of the year as this year.

In my 40 years of covering sports, including 35 here, I’ve seen some bad weather days for sporting events. But never had I seen events played in wind gusts like the ones here Monday.

It was remarkable that McPherson High was able to get in its baseball and softball games against Buhler. The wind was so strong that school officials gave some thought to calling the games, even though there are very few makeup dates left.

The wind, which bucked up to 46 mph, according to one report, was blowing out to right field for the baseball games I covered. If the MHS and Buhler coaches would really have thought about it, they would have planted their right fielders up against the fence.

McPherson’s Logan Schrag, who won’t often be mistaken for Babe Ruth, hit a routine fly ball into the jet stream and it carried out of the park. It certainly had to be a thrill for him, since high school home runs are rare.

Buhler hit four or five balls in the first game to right field that normally would have been easy outs halfway to the fence, but they rode the trade wind west for doubles.

McPherson pitcher Alex Ruxlow certainly took advantage of the wind. Even though he was throwing with a lot of velocity, his pitches were breaking several inches. As they were coming toward the plate, they looked enticing. But by the time the pitch reached the plate, the batters had started their swinging motions and the pitch ended up several inches outside.

Ruxlow’s dominating performance certainly was encouraging for the Bullpups, who need him to be that dominant stopper that an ace is supposed to be. He was virtually untouchable against the Crusaders and that should give him a lot of confidence heading into his next start as well as postseason play.

• 4-MAN ROTATION — Whatever happened to the days of the four-man baseball rotation?

With soft-tosser Bruce Chen down in the back, the Kansas City Royals have skipped his start and moved everybody up. Young flame-throwing phenom Yordano Ventura will get the start tonight, then everybody else moves up for the rest of the homestand.

I can remember a time when all teams went with a four-man rotation. Who will ever forget Baltimore’s quartet of 20-game winners when they had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson? They chewed up nearly 1,000 innings in that memorable year. You never heard about elbow injuries in those days. In fact, many pitchers threw 300 innings, going seven innings or more in a majority of their starts.

Now baseball has five-man rotations and perish the thought of a starting pitcher throwing 200 innings. Tommy John surgery has become as common as a cold. Pitchers now hope to throw six innings, turn it over to their seventh- and eighth-inning bridges, with the closer dropping the hammer with 100 mph heat in the ninth.

Sports are cyclical and you have to wonder which team will attempt a return to the four-man starting staff.

• MHS INVITE SET THURSDAY — I encourage everyone to attend the McPherson High Invitational Track and Field Meet Thursday, the one time of the year the Bullpup varsity performers compete before their home fans.

Bullpup coach Jace Pavlovich has done a wonderful job of pumping life into the program, as it has by far more participants than any other MHS spring sport.

Not only does he have quantity, but quality. Injuries have plagued the team this season, but Pavlovich reports that his team is as healthy as it’s been all year and most hands should be on deck.

As usual, the McPherson Optimist Club will be on hand to help run the meet. Nobody does a better job and it’s no wonder MHS’ meets don’t drag on, getting over far earlier than most.

Field event finals at the stadium begin at 4 p.m., track prelims are at 4:30 and track finals begin 15 minutes once the prelims are completed. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the winds will die down.