MLB’s Opening Day Schedule Lacks Common Sense, Again
Why hasn't MLB figured out it should start the season in cities where it is warm in April?
In the bottom of the first inning at Comerica Park in Detroit, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera stepped to the plate and lined a 93 MPH fastball from reigning American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians into the seats in right for an opposite-field home run, the first tater of the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
But instead of trotting around the bases to celebrate his 350th homer as a Tiger at home plate with the next man up, Cabrera slid into second base. Why? Because he couldn’t see that his homer had landed inches over the yellow line in right field due to all the SNOW FLURRIES.
For some completely inscrutable reason, MLB’s schedule-makers, as they often have, elected to hold Opening Day in Detroit, leading to the Tigers hosting the Indians in a game featuring a first-pitch temperature of 32 degrees.
And that’s not a situation that was unique to Detroit: cold-weather cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cincinnati were all set to play host to Opening Day games. (The Red Sox were rained out.) Meanwhile, ballparks in places like Texas, Arizona, California, Florida and Georgia that could have played host to games sat vacant, as did the domed home of the Twins in Minnesota.
Outside of what happened today with Cabrera, there is plenty of historical evidence that using some common sense and accounting for Mother Nature by moving games to warm-weather cities or domes would make sense. In 2018, an April 1 game between the White Sox and Royals in Kansas City was postponed due to bitter cold and snow in the Midwest. The next day, the same weather pattern impacted the Northeast as the Rays and Yankees and Phillies and Mets also had snow days.
Would altering the schedule so that only the Rangers, Astros, Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Rays, Padres, Dodgers, Giants, Twins, Brewers (dome), A’s, Mariners, Braves and Blue Jays (dome) host Opening Day reduce the number of interdivisional matchups — like the three listed above and Cabrera’s Tigers hosting the Indians — that typically start the season? For sure. Would that be worth it to nearly guarantee (outside of rain) that MLB would be able to hold all 15 scheduled games to start its season in relative comfort for players as well as fans? Definitely.
But for whatever reason, the powers that be at MLB have not made this relatively easy scheduling tweak, and now fans are freezing their asses off in Detroit while fans in Miami “enjoy” watching the Marlins host the Rays while Tampa Bay’s stadium, which is also a dome, goes unused to start the season. (Note: It has never been proven anyone actually enjoys watching the Marlins.)
As OutKast let us know in “Ms. Jackson” back in 2000, “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.” To some extent, that’s true. But you can mitigate the risk of rain, snow and freezing temperatures by planning the picnic in a place that typically has good weather by the start of April, or just eat indoors at one of the six domed stadiums at your disposal. It almost makes too much sense.
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