Brrr-ball title: Series frozen by weather

October 29, 2008 4:33:38 PM PDT
Hey baseball fans, grab your ski cap, gloves, parka and boots. It's time for the World Series! Next year, the Series doesn't start until Oct. 28 and Game 7 would be Nov. 5.

If the forecast for the resumption of Game 5 Wednesday night was any indication - 40 degrees at the start, then dipping into the mid 30s - the 2009 season could end on a ch-ch-chilly note.

"I don't like the cold weather. I grew up in it but I'm not digging it at all," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It would better if the Eagles and the Bucs would take the field today. It would be much more appropriate."

With each additional week, the risk of cold or wet weather gets greater in the Northeast and Midwest.

"You typically would expect the conditions to deteriorate as you go toward winter, but it does vary," National Weather Service meteorologist Valerie Meola said. "Some years are colder than others."

Next year's postseason has been pushed back because of the World Baseball Classic, delaying opening day until April 5. Teams would rather risk bad weather the first two weeks of the season than when playing for a title.

"It's better to start late March and not play so much into November," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "I don't think baseball wished to be playing into November."

No one in baseball's hierarchy wants to address shortening the regular season. And no one will even consider a warm-weather, fixed site for the World Series.

"I think each town should be rewarded, the fan base, the home-team fan base," Maddon said, used to the 72-degree, precipitation-free Trop. "I just think each ballpark is unique. Look at our place, we would be at a great disadvantage playing in a neutral spot."

Looking on the bright side, a November World Series could mean new marketing opportunities for enterprising owners - lined caps with ear flaps; parkas with team logos; special no-drop gloves.

"Sometimes it's real cold, the ball is kind of hard to grip and it's kind of slippery," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "If you don't hit the ball on the fat part of the bat, you get a sting from it. It can be uncomfortable hitting in cold weather, but at the same time it can be uncomfortable throwing a ball, too."

Before Game 4 of the 1997 World Series, there was snow during batting practice in Cleveland. The game-time temperature was 38 degrees, more suitable for ski jumps than sliders. That was the coldest night at the Series in recent memory, and it was thought to be the first time snow fell at a Series game since the first two games of the all-Chicago matchup in 1906.

Last year, a snowstorm forced the Colorado Rockies off the field and into the batting cages at Coors Field for their last pre-World Series workout at home - on Oct. 21. Players chose to focus on the fickleness of the Denver weather rather than the cold.

But with three rounds of playoffs, cold is en vogue.

In 2001, there was a 38-degree wind chill for Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 30 - the Series was pushed back a week that year because of 9/11 and didn't end until Nov. 4. In 2006, the game-time temperature was 44 degrees for Game 2 in Detroit and 43 degrees for Game 3 in St. Louis, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Even in Atlanta, the wind chill was 34 for the 1999 opener.

"As an amateur meteorologist, let me assure you it rains in November and it rains in mid-October. You can get warmer weather as the fall goes on," commissioner Bud Selig said. "It's warming this weekend after the intense cold in the Midwest, which is now coming here. And if the World Series was played next week, we would have been better off."


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