Baseball: the most fair-weather sport of all?

Published 10:58 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

When it comes to sports coverage, football and basketball are at the top of my list.

It’s not because of the ball, the playing surface or a difference in skill requirements. For me, it all boils down to one thing.

The term “fair-weather fan” is often thrown about, but in my mind, baseball is a fair-weather sport. Baseball purists, hold your temper for a second. I’m going somewhere with this.

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Don’t get me wrong. There are a number of things I appreciate about baseball. Aside from the game’s numerous intricacies, the early afternoon starts are a huge plus. Early starts equal early finishes. Early finishes equal better stories because deadline becomes a non-factor.

I wish someone would give thought to changing the start times for football and basketball games. But that’s a topic for another column.

Back to my point. While I love the early starts, the sports fan in me does not approve. In Dallas County, baseball is one of the few major sporting events that can end prematurely due to darkness.

Several fields do not have lights, ironically forcing a deadline on baseball games.

But, let’s take it a step further. Unlike the other three major sports — football, basketball and hockey — baseball games can be delayed, postponed or cancelled by rain.

I’m not talking about the thunderstorms that bring lighting and force teams off the field. I’m not talking about the tornado warnings that forced two delays in Meadowview’s AISA Final Four basketball game against Southern a couple of weeks ago.

I’m talking about an isolated rain shower that sends the field crew running with tarps in tow. For goodness sake, I’ve seen NASCAR races continue through rain at a pace of 185 mph.

Nature’s wrath is not limited to rain in and of itself, either. Snow, sleet and cold temperatures have also been the undoing of many a baseball game.

Yes, you read that right — cold temperatures. To my knowledge, it has not happened in Dallas County yet, but I have seen a number of the games on the collegiate level cancelled when the thermometer drops. Somewhere, hockey fans and players are laughing their backsides off.

Sure, basketball has the added bonus of playing its games under a roof. But take a look at football, a sport that goes on regardless of virtually any weather condition.

Cold? I still remember Tom Coughlin’s frostbitten look when the Giants beat the Packers in the NFC championship game. I also remember of trio of bikini-topped women watching in three-degree weather.

How about heat? All anyone has to do is go to an opening game in late August to know heat is not a deterrent.

Snow/sleet/rain? Teams in the north or at high altitudes would not play in November, December or January.

But, I do understand why baseball is not an all-weather sport. A slippery mound or muddy base paths can lead to injuries and errors. A wet ball — particularly in the hands of pitchers and fielders — can do the same.

But understanding is not the same thing as giving a free pass from ridicule.

Honestly, who cancels a game because it’s too cold?