Esposito: Rainy Daze Scheduling

Rain, rain, go away…and take that gosh darn snow with you!

We say it every spring. Why doesn’t major league baseball book early schedule dates in warm weather cities and for teams with domes to avoid all of these April cancellations?

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Thanks to the current CBA, which added four extra days off for players, the season now stretches a full 186 days from the opener, with 23 days off built in, which includes the three days of downtime surrounding the All-Star Game in July. But with all of the snow and rain days canceling games, many of those off days become work days for the beleaguered ballplayers.

Now we’re not here to feel sorry for the well-paid players, who now earn a collective average of $4.4 million or so. They’re all lottery winners in this universe. But more so, we’re feeling sorry for the fans, who have to sit through countless rain delays, and forced to sit through three-hour-plus games in unbearable wintry conditions.

So what if the warm-weather teams have some sort of weather-related home field advantage for the first two weeks of the season. Baseball has long since proven the home team doesn’t always win, and a good team will prevail most of the time, regardless of where it’s played. It’s still a who’s pitching contest, and will continue to be one.

Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to baseball this spring. What spring? There already have been some two dozen or so cancellations through this past weekend throughout the game, including an almost complete washout between the Tigers and Yankees in Detroit.

Ironically, critics to permanently altering the schedule parameters can point to this weekend and say, see, even if the Tigers or Yankees, or Royals, or Indians, or Cubs, had stalled their openers until this week or weekend, they’d still be washed out or snowed out, or frozen out.

And we’re actually feeling sorry for those poor Vikings in Minnesota and other parts Mid-West, who suffered through a blizzard over the weekend, and are expecting more snow flakes this week.

There was a time when all of baseball began their seasons mid-April. The obvious example is that we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day every April 15th, because that’s when he played his first official game as a Dodger in 1947. And longtime Mets fans will recall their first official Opening Day in 1962 occurred on April 17th, not March 29th!

But that was then, in a 154-game season for Jackie, and while the Mets played 162 in ‘62, there were many more days off. It felt like every Sunday was a scheduled doubleheader, and many Mondays were often days off or travel days.

Those days are long gone, and never coming back, as management needs to schedule 81 dates for financial compensation, and they wince every time they have to drop a rain-induced doubleheader into the schedule.

There are at least 13 teams in warm weather cities or with domes. It sure would make sense to focus the first week, and maybe second as well, in those palm tree paradises, and after five or six years, if a pattern develops that seems to favor those southern cities with a distinct early season advantage, okay then revisit that concept. Until then, follow the sun, boys, follow the sun.

Some global warming, huh?

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