Home runs drop with temperature
After a frosty first week, baseball quickly made a move for warmth and shifted the Los Angeles Angels’ series against the Indians from Cleveland to an enclosed field in Milwaukee.
That didn’t do much good for Indians fans on Monday. For the fourth straight day, games were wiped out by snow at Jacob Field, sending the Seattle Mariners packing without playing an inning that counted.
All of a sudden, players are tracking snowfall and wind chill with the same interest as balls, strikes and outs.
“It’s stupid. It’s crazy,” Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia said. “We should definitely be starting somewhere else, definitely on the West Coast or somewhere with a dome so this doesn’t happen.”
Participate in The Longevity Project
At least in Milwaukee the Indians will be assured of playing the Angels in a three-game set that starts Tuesday night because Miller Park has a retractable roof. Fans will get a bargain: All tickets will be $10.
Commissioner Bud Selig thinks it would impracticable to start the season with games only in warm-weather cities and ballparks with domes.
“Games have been snowed out for 130 years. Like with everything in life, you need luck,” he said. “It’s an impossible situation because no matter what you do, the clubs don’t want long road trips. You just do the best you can. This is very unusual. We’re getting late-February weather.”
During a week as cold as a Barry Bonds brushoff, temperatures weren’t the only thing way down: Home runs plunged to their lowest level since 1993, with the average dropping from 2.4 in last season’s opening week to 1.8 this year. It hasn’t been that low since a 1.6 average 14 years ago, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s freezing. Who can hit a home run right now?” said Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, a former AL MVP.
Runs per game dropped from 10.51 to 8.55, a level unseen since 1992’s 8.21. Pitcher’s ERAs fell from 4.94 to 3.72, also a 15-year low.
“Everywhere I turn on TV and watch highlights, it seems pretty cold,” New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado said. “And I can tell you that most of the hitters, they don’t like to hit when it’s cold. That’s my conspiracy theory right there.”
In addition to the Mariners-Indians series, one game apiece was lost in New York, Chicago and Detroit.
Cold didn’t stop Tampa Bay’s Elijah Dukes, who hit his first two career homers at Yankee Stadium. He connected for his second while wearing a ski mask with a slit around the eyes just wide enough to allow him to see, looking more cat burglar than slugger.
Baseball tried to work around the cold a decade ago, without great success. After enduring a snowout at Boston’s Fenway Park, a snowy afternoon at Yankee Stadium and cold in Detroit and Chicago in 1996, baseball remade the schedule for 1997, using covered fields and every West Coast site.
After teams in the East and Midwest got home, eight games were washed out by weather on the season’s second Saturday, raising that year’s total to 17.
Draft schedules must be given to the players’ association about nine months before opening day. Katy Feeney, baseball’s senior vice president of scheduling, wished she had an advance forecast that early.
“Those warm-weather clubs, they don’t want 25 April dates,” Selig said. “Second-guessing about the schedule is just ludicrous. There is no other solution, and we have 130 years to prove it. I used to be one of those owners who was unreasonable.”
That said, baseball is looking at alternatives, although no one is sure what can be done to make the schedule foolproof.
“You can have bad weather the third week in April in Detroit as easily as you could have bad weather the first week,” said Bob DuPuy, the sport’s chief operating officer.
Still, Tigers manager Jim Leyland thinks the warm-weather schedule should be given another try.
“They have not done a good job of scheduling when you’ve got Tampa Bay and Toronto playing, and both have domes. That’s not too smart, is it?” he said. ” It doesn’t seem too smart to me.”