Early April baseball in the Midwest can be a flat-out teeth-kicker. Baseball, of course, can kick your teeth in on a regular basis no matter the month, but shit like last night is brutal, even if it (literally) comes with the territory. Couldn’t they at least have given us a rain delay, so we could have stretched out the night a little bit?
Remember when the Twins used to play in the American League West, back before the greedy fucks starting monkeying around with the divisions and came up with the utterly inane unbalanced schedule? Back then the Twins played in a division with teams like California, Oakland, Texas, and Seattle. Now you’ve got five northern teams in the Central, and at least for the next two years the Dome provides the only sure refuge from the dodgy weather in the first weeks of the season.
Maybe somebody can explain to me how the schedule makers manage to send the Twins on their first road trip of the year –in the second week of April– to Chicago, Kansas City, and Detroit. It makes absolutely no sense.
The weather we’ve been having –on opening night, for instance, and last night (both in Chicago and here)– has already had people wringing their hands about the wisdom of building the new downtown ballpark without a retractable roof. I understand that, certainly; I also wish like hell the Pohlads had poneyed up for a roof, and have some pretty raw memories of making the trek up to Met Stadium as a kid only to have to sit through rain delays that resulted in eventual postponement. I’ve also been rained out in Kansas City, both parks in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and New York.
No doubt about it, it sucks. It always sucks. It messes with the day-to-day, day-after-day rhythms of the game, particularly early and late in the season. But while sitting through close to a thousand games in the Dome –the Twins moved into the dump the year I moved to town– I’ve gained a little perspective on rainouts. For the last ten years, for every game I’ve attended, I’ve made a plus or minus notation in my scorebook. Pluses represent all those games where I would have been at least relatively miserable sitting outdoors watching a baseball game. A double plus generally means either the game wouldn’t have been played were it not for the Dome, or I wouldn’t have slogged through the weather to sit through it. A minus has come to represent sort of the Dome version of a rainout: those are the afternoons or evenings where it felt like a crime to be sitting indoors on a beautiful day watching a game that was invented to be played outside on beautiful days.
I can tell without going back through all of my scorebooks that the minuses probably outnumber the pluses by at least five-to-one, which is something I suggest we all keep in mind during the dark early days of this season, and when the Twins finally do move into that new ballpark in 2010.
Shit, just on principle I’m going to feel obligated to gut out games in the new yard even on miserable April and September (and –knock wood– October) nights, because I know how damn grateful I’m going to be for all those beautiful days and nights in between.