We all see players in the North in April, whether on television or in-person, bundled up against the cold.
The cold wind blows against all – if you are part of the media, you experience the same return from sunny Florida or Arizona – when you step on the field prior to a game.
It’s like this in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Denver, and can be in Kansas City and St. Louis. Toronto at least has a dome.
This year, the MLB season started a week early to provide more off-days, which is a good move. The problem is Mother Nature often doesn’t want to cooperate. And it’s not just this year, and not just the majors. Three times in their 25-year existence, the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Double-A Eastern League affiliate, had spates of scheduled games postponed when snow covered fields in New England with several inches of snow.
One year, the Portland Sea Dogs built a snowman on the infield – on a day they were originally scheduled to play Trenton in Hadlock Field.
But baseball in the cold is something players have learned to deal with, like it or not. But, for a month, there are two separate games – warm weather baseball, which is normal, and cold-weather baseball, which is not. They both count the same in the standings.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler knows what it is like to battle such elements in April, having spent part of his career in locales such as Boston, Detroit and Chicago. It’s not easy to perform.
“I have a lot of empathy for what it takes to play Major League Baseball,” said Kapler. “I have a lot of empathy for what it takes to play in cities like New York and Philadelphia in April. “I played in it in Boston, Detroit and Colorado.
“It’s not fun, and there are challenges, so to think it’s tougher to play baseball in the cold, that’s fair.’’
Not to make any excuses, but it seems the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton is not having an easy time with New York weather. It remains to be seen if warmer weather heats up his bat. It just may. Any player will tell you fly balls don’t carry as well.
The 2018 Miami Marlins are not a good baseball team, but here is something interesting. Miami opened the season at home, giving the Chicago Cubs all they could handle in four games and the Red Sox in a pair.
Then they arrived in Philadelphia, playing a pair of games with the wind chill in the 30s and were hammered 5-0 last Thursday and 20-1 Saturday.
Again, this is not a good baseball team, but the Marlins, in a small sample, they were at least competitive in warm weather against a pair of formidable opponents.
Add in the postponements for ice on the playing surface in Target Field in Minneapolis and there are later schedule conflicts. The Twins, by the way, got an interleague game in with the Pittsburgh Pirates in freezing rain and snow so they wouldn’t have to come back to PNC Park on a summer off-day.
The Pirates did the same in Detroit, playing a makeup night game with temperatures in the 20s, for an identical reason.
Baseball ought to seriously consider scheduling games either in the South, Southwest, West Coast or Domes prior to April 15.