When it rains...well you know...

April 29, 2018

Hello, sports fans! Steve and Cody were kind enough to invite me to occasionally write some musings
about sports to go along with their podcast, and as someone who has a ton of thoughts about sports
and a compulsive need to put those thoughts down on paper/screen before they disappear, I was more
than happy to oblige. I’ll start out with a little bit about myself to give you some idea of what you might
expect from me moving forward. I was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love, which means that
I’ve experienced both the blessing and the curse that is being a Philly sports fan. I’ve been there for the
few highs and the many, many lows of Philadelphia fanhood, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Winning feels great, but it feels that much better after years and years of losing—or at least that’s what I
tell myself so that I can sleep at night. Fortunately with the Eagles as defending Super Bowl Champions,
the Sixers looking like a budding champion in the making, and the Phillies featuring a stockpile of
exciting young talent, I’ve been sleeping just fine lately (despite the Flyers’ efforts to the contrary). I’m
also an alumnus of the greatest school in the world, the Pennsylvania State University, at which I earned
a degree in meteorology and a recently-acquired minor in Saquon Barkley adoration. I’ve been a
meteorologist in the private sector for just over a decade now, and my passion for weather is equal to
my passion for sports, so I get a bit giddy in the rare cases where the two intersect.


So far this season, weather has been a frequent and unwelcome presence in major league baseball
games. As of April 23 there have been 26 postponements due to weather, which according to an AP
story is the most weather-related postponements through April since 1986 when such records began to
be kept, and there may be more yet on the docket with rain in the Mid-Atlantic today. The unluckiest
team has been the Detroit Tigers who have suffered six postponed games, followed by the Chicago Cubs
with five; thus far Mother Nature has been far more successful than most NL pitchers in stopping Javier
Baez. Thanks to a combination of geography (or in Milwaukee’s case, a roof) and luck, the Astros, A’s,
Rangers, Marlins, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres are the lone fortunate teams to have
completed all of their home and away games as scheduled. We’ve seen footage of players romping in
the snow at Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field and we’ve even seen a weather postponement in a
dome, as the Toronto Blue Jays were forced to postpone a game when ice falling from the CN Tower
pierced the roof of the Rogers Centre. According to legend, when the late Ernie Banks famously
exclaimed “Let’s Play Two,” he was doing so to inspire the last-place Cubs on an extraordinary hot and
humid summer day, but one has to wonder if Mr. Banks would be so keen on playing six hours of
baseball in this weather.


The reasoning behind this rash of weather woes has been a pattern that has yielded a combination of
unseasonably chilly and wet conditions across much of the US, a worst-case scenario for baseball fans
and players. The following cities with baseball teams have experienced a Top 10 coldest April on record
thus far (recorded at airport weather sites): Minneapolis (coldest), St. Louis (5 th -coldest), Kansas City (2 nd -
coldest), Chicago (3 rd -coldest), Milwaukee (4 th -coldest), and Dallas (6 th -coldest) with a few others
(Cincinnati, Detroit, and Boston) that rank among the Top 20. Meanwhile, while the amount of liquid
precipitation has generally been above normal but not historically-prolific in most spots (only Seattle
and Oakland have experienced a Top 10 wet April period among MLB cities), the frequency has been
notable, particularly in the Midwest with Chicago experiencing 15 days of measurable precip since the
start of baseball season. Of course it hasn’t just been rain that has fallen, but April snow across much of
the Midwest and to a lesser extent the Northeast. Minneapolis has seen 28.9” of snow since the start of
baseball season, a record by far, including an astounding 15.7” during an April 13-15 storm—whomever
in their infinite wisdom decided that the Twins should play in an outdoor stadium probably didn’t clear

their decision with a meteorologist first. New York City (measured at Central Park) recorded 5.5” on
April 2 for its 8 th -largest April snowstorm on record, and although the average temperature for New York
thus far in baseball season hasn’t amounted to record chill, it is worth noting that seventeen days thus
far since March 29 have had a low temperature in the 30s, meaning a lot of chilly evenings at the
ballpark. This is perhaps part of the reason why the NL East-leading Mets, whose ballpark holds 41,992
people, have only averaged 28,735 fans at home games thus far. Then again, Miami is averaging a
league-low 13,171, so clearly weather isn’t everything.


So what is there to be done? Personally I’ve long been an advocate of the idea that a 162-game baseball
season is entirely too long, even independent of weather. Starting the baseball season in late April and
having the World Series begin on October 1 makes more sense to me than having baseball games
snowed out in late March and a freezing World Series in early November. That being said, while I’d have
no problem chopping 20-30 games off the schedule, the purists would never go for it given that it would
render many if not all single-season and career record tallies unbreakable, so I understand that such a
proposal is dead upon arrival. That being the case, it seems we’ll just have to hope for more favorable
weather this time next year, and perhaps more sensible stadium planning in places like Denver and
Minneapolis the next time around.

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