Postponed: Is There A Solution To Baseball's Weather Woes?

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The first game of the Cubs-Cardinals series was postponed Monday due to snow and cold. This marks the Cubs fourth contest to be called off in the first three weeks of 2018. Chicago is not alone.

Three more games lost today makes it 23, including the Blue Jays game in Toronto. You may be asking, doesn't the SkyDome (It will always be the SkyDome) have a roof? An ice storm damaged the roof forcing the cancellation. These games have to be made up, which means lots of doubleheaders and playing on scheduled off days.

This doesn't even include the games that are played in rough conditions, like the Braves and Cubs matchup on Saturday. Joe Maddon complained about having to try and play in brutally cold and wet conditions. News came out today that league-wide attendance has taken a dip in the cold conditions. Are there any ways to try and reduce the number of early season postponements? There are, but each of them have issues of their own.

The easiest solution would be to reduce the number of regular season games from the current 162. Two common suggestions are 154 and 144 game slates. Starting the season in the middle of April would hopefully reduce the number of snow storms and cold games. The problem of course are those pesky owners, losing anywhere from 8 to 18 games is a lot revenue to give up. So consider that plan dead in the water.

What about starting the season in late April while still playing 162 games? The problem with that is, the World Series would be played on Thanksgiving weekend. While that would make for an interesting black Friday, it isn't like November weather is a real guarantee. Better to snow out April games than the seventh game of the NLCS.

Some people like a blast from the past, playing several scheduled doubleheaders. That way the season can start in late April while still ending in early October. Small market teams will have no issue scheduling two games with one gate, not so much for big market teams like the Cubs who can sell out many of their games. Add to that players who might not be crazy about having to play 18 inning days ten times a season.

Some, this author included, have wondered if early season games could be scheduled mainly in domes and warm weather cities. By my count 14 teams play in domes or warm weather climates. That means there would have to be at least one cold weather game every day. It also would mean teams that play in climate controlled situations get the advantage of long homestands to start every season. A 15-game road trip to begin a season is a lot to ask of any team.

The games actually started four days early in 2018 to give the players more days off throughout the season, that's a move in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like any changes are imminent. For the time being, the season will start at the end of March and weather will be an early issue. My advice, bring an umbrella and be sure to bundle up.

 

 

Filed under: MLB

Tags: mlb, Weather

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    Yes. Start the season at least one week later and shorten the schedule back to 154 games.

  • It would seem scheduling early season games in warm locations/domes would be the easiest solution. Mixing in a few doubleheaders and a rollback to 154 games would be true to the history of baseball. Starting in late March is foolish. The real challenge is owners agreeing to reduced revenues.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Owners aren't giving up revenue and players won't agree to smaller salaries

  • Why didn't the Cubs move today's game to a 1:20 start when it's gonna be in the mid-40s and under the warm sun, instead of leaving it as a 7:05 start when its gonna be just a cold as it was yesterday when they cancelled the game?

  • In reply to TTP:

    I am guessing it has to do with TV rights and contracts.

  • In reply to TTP:

    This is also a very smart approach. And it can be done. Two weeks ago the Giants had to cancel a home game vs. the Dodgers, the first SF rainout in 40+ years. The next day they pushed the start time back two hours to avoid the rain. Smart.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    That is not true. That was not the first rainout of a SF Giants game at home. 40 years? No way.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    It looks like you're right and I was way off. It was 12 years ago.

    April 16, 2000 vs. Arizona
    May 7, 2000 vs. Colorado
    April 12, 2003 vs. Los Angeles
    April 11, 2006 vs. Houston
    April 12, 2006 vs. Houston

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Yes, I thought I saw they had been rained out before. I lived in the area for over 30 years.

  • The last half of April weather can be just as brutal. Mlb could shorten the season and have just as many postponed games. Mother nature will always be the boss.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Sometimes the first two weeks of April are the best weather. If I were the mlb I world just ignore the weather and schedule an off day for the first series and hope for the best. Eventually one always loses betting against nature.

  • The weather in the Midwest this spring is anomalous. One weather site gives the average high temperature in Chicago on 11 April to be 55 F. A bit cool for baseball, but certainly playable. There is no reason to expect that future springs will be like this one, hence no reason to change anything.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I basically agree and don't care to see a knee-jerk reaction to some flukey weather. The one thing that has changed is the earlier start to the season. That could change again with the next CBA, so any "fix" to this problem could be temporary.

    With the earlier start to the season making bad weather more likely, scheduling those earlier games in warmer climates (or domes) makes some sense, but those teams getting the extra home games at the beginning of the season will have to make those up on the road the rest of the year. It wouldn't be a huge factor if evenly spread out, but I'm sure those "lucky" teams won't want to be playing additional road games in September, especially with a postseason berth on the line.

  • Shortening the season would almost force baseball to acknowledge different sets of records for different schedules. I hated the word “asterisk” ever since 1961 and sure wouldn’t want to see it’s return to prominence. I can’t think of any other sport where performance records are held sacred like baseball.

    (Don’t get me started on the DiMaggio streak, which I still think to be the most bogus venerated one of all.....gotta love those NY official scorers around games 31 & 32)

  • I have been advocating a 154-game schedule since the playoff scheme expanded to three levels - now 4 if you count the WC playoff. That's potentially 22 post-season games. If it keeps going, they'll follow the NHL into a playoff picture where 5th-place teams with sub .500 records can still "earn" a playoff berth.

  • I personally think a 154 game schedule is a bandaid. As I posted yesterday, I would cut 40 games off the schedule, so down to 122. I'd start the season the last week of April, and start the playoffs a week or two earlier. Ideally, the World Series should be finished by October 20. Will this ever happen? Of course not. But let's be honest, the baseball season is very long.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    That would be a massive amount of money simply left on the table. I think you'd have pretty universal opposition to it from owners, players and business owners/concession franchisees. You're talking about potentially 12.5% revenue drop right off the bat. How do sell that to municipalities who have stadium agreements with clubs that are based on attendance thresholds? You're talking about renegotiating massive, complicated contracts. I've heard how even selling a 4 home game contraction to these folks would be nearly impossible, I can't even imagine going to them with a proposal to lop off 20.

    I do get it on the baseball side though. You eliminate injury risk in bad weather, etc. I've long argued that there should only be 20 teams in MLB at yet the long term plan for the game is to have 34 teams by 2040. You really can't mess with the financials in a game that's trying to increase revenue.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Oh, it's obviously not going to happen. It's more likely they will make the Wild Card game a Wild Card three game series, and the Divisional Series 7 games, and they will be playing until Thanksgiving. I'm just saying if I were king for a day, that's what I would do.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    In every debate there are fringes on both sides, and the answer is usually somewhere in the middle. The one constant? Follow the money. MLB would play year-round if it was their call.

    A much shorter season would keep players more fresh and probably increase the overall quality of the on-field product, but is a pipe dream as you admit. I'm firmly in the "more baseball" camp but I'm, like all of us here, a die-hard fan.

    Wickdipper noted the sacred numbers and traditions of baseball, and that has to be taken into account. A shorter season could eliminate chases of single-season records and even career milestones (3000 hits, 500 HR's, etc.). PED's have already tainted many of these marks. I can't see MLB making another monumental mistake.

  • From a strictly-Cubs perspective, put a roof on Wrigley. Problem solved.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I wanted a new stadium in the suburbs with a retractable roof but they did not listen to me.

  • 154

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    These early season rainouts my be a blessing for the cubs because they're not a good team right now. The cardinals should easily sweep this 2 game series and they will absolutely destroy Jon Lester tomorrow who i predict will have an outing very similar to Quintana's last start.

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Every prediction you have made so far has been wrong. So I guess that means Lester will have a good game. :-)

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    These early postponements with Rizzo on the shelf could be a blessing. Good call.

    I've been pondering your offer of a wager on whether or not the Cubs finish 2018 at .500. If we don't, I'll post the lyrics to the DirtyBirds' victory song, if you guys have one, or any song of your choice. When we do, you admit to being a life-long Cardinal's fan (which you've already done) and post the lyrics to "Go, Cubs, Go!"

    Deal?

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I know that you are not known for your debating skills, Greg, or even your willingness to offer a counterpoint at all, but I'm 100℅ positive you drop these outlandish comments and come back to relish in the carnage you have (hopefully) created. You challenged me with a wager. I accepted and offered terms. What up?

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I disagree that these are a blessing. Losing those off-days later could hurt as players will get run-down.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The new CBA mandated an earlier start to the season in order to give the players more off-days. Who knew they'd be all unscheduled in early April?

    This will come back to haunt many teams, but this is where the Cubs' depth shines.

  • fb_avatar

    Go down to 154 again, or even 140, not less than that. I know we value stats more than any other sports and memorize more stats than any other sport.
    As Norway said above, our average temp around now is 50 so these temps and rain/snow are very unusual. Times are changing though as is our climate (please, no political discussions) and we can see higher highs and lower lows. Let's get out in front of it and really try to do best for our fans and teams. We already added a layer of playoffs, and that worked out great. Fresher players mean better baseball, we all want that.
    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan, my friend, do you really want to change baseball because the US had an unusually cold and wet first half of April? Anyone who wants to make an argument for a shorter season can do so, but please not based upon this freakish weather or trying to "get out in front of it" regarding climate change.

    I like baseball the way it is. I've suffered through expansion of both teams and playoffs in my life as a fan, and I'm still hooked. Lots of this weather crap is noise pushed by people with an agenda. Again, if anyone wants to push for a shorter schedule, that is a debate worth having. But don't hide behind a fickle Mother Nature to do so.

    My point wasn't directed at you, Jonathan. I've just read so much about the early-season weather woes and shortening the schedule. I see them as two separate topics.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Do you live in the South? Just curious.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I was raised in Chicagoland until I graduated HS in 1989, then spent the next 25 years in the very deep South. I've been back in this crap weather, to be closer to beloved Cubs (and family matters), since late 2015. It has worked out well, mostly by design.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I left Chicago in 1988. I was back there visiting my brother and sister two weeks ago. I forgot how cold it was. It is 61 here now, the sun is out, all the trees have leaves, and the flowers are in full bloom. I love Chicago, but I don't miss the cold at all.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I always love to see green on the ivy, if only on TV.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Good timing, BP.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I credit John for showing me the way.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I've had a saying my whole life: "The Cubs will win it all in my lifetime, and when they do, I will be there".

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I hope I didn't imply that it was all weather directed. I just read Al Yellon in BleedCubbieBlue that it was 42 years ago today that the Cubs blew a 13-2 lead to the Phillies when Mike Schmidt hit 4 HRs.
    It was 84 degrees that day--on April 17. As an aside, I saw Mike S. play college ball at Ohio U and he was a SS. He was also heads and above the other players. I do think a shorter schedule can help at the back end too--do we want to see the WS in Nov? I love baseball and I love good baseball and playing in 30 degree wind blowing days or nights is not good baseball. With more playoff games a shorter regular season is not unreasonable. Saying that, I would think that reducing the schedule by 8 games to 154 is about as far as I would go.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Many of you remember Ernie, Ronnie, and Billy. That was just before my time. I grew up on Manny, Ivan, and Steve (and Larry B double I double T N-E-R).

    Mike Schmidt was my first- ever favorite player, even though he was a Cubs killer. He was a bad man.

    I like the schedule as is, at least as far as total games go. The season will not be shortened due to some bad weather. Once again, if that's anyone's argument, we'll have it. But this is just peculiar weather.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    Did you ever see the Reuschel brothers play for the Cubs. Rick was a good pitcher and a really good ballplayer. To see him pinch-run for someone and how he ran the bases was great.
    I am older (born in 1950) saw the early years of Mays and Mantle and Aaron, saw Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal. Those were amazing days. But now, think that we're seeing Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, KB and Clayton Kershaw--possibly Shotei Ohtani too. Every generation has generational players and we have our share today.
    I did love me some Manny Trillo and Steve Ontiveros and especially Bill Madlock.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Like so many others, I'd run home from school to catch the end of the Cubs game on WGN. One of the promos they had was a quick montage of Cubs highlights, and included (ended?) with a shot of Rick Reuschel throwing a called strike right down the pipe. He was my first "ace".

  • fb_avatar

    I almost wrote more about this in my article, but there is no doubt this year is a fluke. The weather has been unusually bad to start the season. Most rain outs are in the first few weeks of the season. This number is completely above the norm. Almost every other year won't be this bad. Still it's an interesting debate to have. Also interesting Anthony Rizzo today mentioned he would like to only have to play like 140 games in a season.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    I wonder if he's willing to take a prorated contract

  • fb_avatar

    Could someone free my comment please? thanks.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Me too. Two in a row. I almost want to keep track, with advanced numbers.

  • Buy a herd of cattle.
    Cows fart a lot, releasing methane.
    Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.
    Early spring temps rise due to global warming.
    Problem solved.

    Bonus: You get some good steaks.

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