With the Detroit Red Wings taking a 7-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks (and it's only the second period -- with the rate they are going, it may be 10-1 by the time I'm done writing this blog entry) I called my dad to ask him why there isn't a mercy rule in hockey. The conversation quickly turned to how awful the Tigers looked last night (Jose Mesa's debut was far from impressive, as he relieved Justin Verlander and promptly gave up 2 runs in a 3-1 Tigers loss to Kansas City) and how cold it was during last night's game (wind chill in the 20s) and how ridiculous it is that Major League Baseball even schedules games knowing the weather is likely to be this cold.
Take the Cleveland Indians-Seattle Mariners series for example. Last night's game was postponed due to extreme cold and rescheduled for a double-header this afternoon. Problem is, Cleveland got inches of snow overnight, and today's games were postponed too. They will try again for a double header tomorrow, and I would imagine make up the lost game at some point later in the season. The Tigers have to do the same as their game with the Blue Jays scheduled for Thursday afternoon was postponed until September due to the cold weather.
"This is piercing cold," Casey said. "In the eighth inning (Wednesday), I felt it in my bones. And (Thursday) is worse."
At Thursday's scheduled game time, the tarp was off the infield, but the temperature was 29 degrees, with 19 mph winds gusting to 41 mph and making it feel like it was 17.
"I think if we were playing, Al Gore should have been there to throw out the first pitch," first-base coach Andy Van Slyke quipped.
Minnesota had a game in Chicago postponed for the same reason. Tampa Bay and and the Yankees had a game in New York canceled because of rain. The weather seems to be forcing postponements across the league. And when teams do play, like the Tigers did last night and this afternoon in Kansas City (where the weather is in the 20s) it's not fun for anyone. Not for the players, who can't wait to get off the field and into the dugout, and not for the fans, who either don't show up because it's just too cold, or sit frozen in the stands, suffering. Not only that, but the quality of the games suffer. Extreme cold and wind makes things harder for batters and almost impossible for fielders. Wind caused errors and other misplays are extraordinarily common this time of the year, and they are incredibly unnecessary. If a fielder makes a misplay or misreads the ball and a single turns into a double or a pop out turns into a triple, that's one thing. But when weather causes these things to happen, and changes the game, for the worse, something should be done.
It's so needless too. It should be easy for Major League Baseball to give teams in cold weather cities at least an extra week before coming home to start the year. Yes, no team would likely choose to start off the season on a roadtrip, and being home is nice even when it is snowing and freezing cold, but at some point, practicality should take center stage. Minnesota plays in a dome. If they start off the season playing the White Sox, the game shouldn't be in Chicago, it should be in a dome, where even it snows a foot it won't matter. The Indians should start their season in Seattle where the weather is far less likely to be a factor. And the Tigers should have started in Toronto, in the comforts of the climate controlled Skydome (wait -- It's not called the SkyDome anymore, right? Somebody from Toronto will have to help me out here). There are plenty of domes and warm weather cities, so even if weather problems can't be completely eliminated, they can be mostly controlled.
Sadly, though, this probably won't get fixed until some star player gets hurt because of the cold weather and enough fans get fed up that owners realize that making players and fans sit through weather delays only to have games postponed or played in frigid temperatures is just silly. Starting out on the road may not be "fair" to teams in cold weather cities, but it's the best of bad options when the season starts when it's still snowing, and it is a change Major League Baseball needs to take into serious consideration before the 2008 season.
Update: I wish I could take credit for being such a fortune teller, but it may just turn out I don't check out CNNSI.com as much as I should. As it turns out, a star player has gotten hurt because of the cold weather. According to CNNSI, All Star catcher Victor Martinez, of the aforementioned Cleveland Indians, is likely headed to the Disabled List with a strained quad, suffered, ironically, in a game against Seattle which didn't even count, because it was postponed after the weather got too cold. Too bad that didn't save Martinez from being hurt in the first place.
Cleveland's catcher strained his left quadriceps while running to first base in the third inning of the Indians' frosty home opener Friday against the Seattle Mariners. The game was eventually postponed after 173 minutes in delays.
Cold weather -- gametime temperature was 31 degrees with a wind chill of 20 -- may have contributed to Martinez getting hurt.
Umpire crew chief Rick Reed said he factored Martinez's injury into his decision to eventually postpone the game.