Senior Writer

Reasons for rain? Maybe Mother Nature wants more twinbills


Raindrops keep fallin' on their heads. And fallin' ... and fallin' ... and fall. ...

Yet even in its wettest season in years, baseball looks out its (water-dotted) window and sees rainbows.

You can tell by the fact that, so far, there are no job postings for Executive Vice President, Global Warming.

"I don't know what Al Gore was talking about," commissioner Bud Selig joked from his office in Milwaukee this week. "I sure wouldn't mind it getting warmer."

Fans have already soaked up 29 weather-related postponements, eight more than all of last season. (AP)  
Fans have already soaked up 29 weather-related postponements, eight more than all of last season. (AP)  
Nor would 30 clubs.

Warmer, and drier.

Through Wednesday, 29 games already had been postponed because of inclement weather. Last year? There was a total of 21 postponements ... for the entire season.

"I'm an amateur meteorologist," Selig continued. "I watch the Weather Channel a lot. And this has been unbelievable. Everybody you talk to is talking about it.

"The fact that we're even close to our attendance figures through this point last year is incredible. ... We're less than one percent down from last year. I'm more than optimistic about our attendance. I'm more bullish than ever before."

I believe Selig was wearing galoshes and speaking from beneath an umbrella even while inside his office.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the earth experienced the seventh-warmest April since record-keeping started in 1880.

According to the National Weather Service, La Nina -- obviously a fan of showers, but not Towles (J.R., whose Astros were rained out in Cincinnati on May 2) -- is the rainmaker.

A La Nina phenomenon occurs when cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean wreak havoc with the atmosphere.

"The result is an active storm track driven by a stronger-than-average jet stream right into the center of the country, which is common to La Nina patterns in the spring," said Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Chicago bureau.

I phoned the Chicago bureau of the NWS because the city has been hammered especially hard this spring: The Cubs already have postponed three games in Wrigley Field, which ties Pittsburgh for the major-league lead.

"At least they're first in something, huh?" one helpful NWS person offered.

Predictably, the drenchings are dredging up old arguments as to why baseball doesn't play more early games in warm weather cities, and why the schedule doesn't start later.

As for the former, it is simply more waterlogged than the Pirates, whose washout in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday was their fourth of the season.

There are certain desires inherent in all clubs: Everybody wants more home dates during the summer, when school is out. Few want to play at home on Mother's Day. Nobody wants to open on the road every season (and nobody wants to play on the road for long stretches at a time).

Then, there are the two-team markets. If the Mets and Yankees both spent much of April on the road and then made up for it in, say, June ... there would be no baseball in New York for much of April, then two games per day in June? That's just silly.

Who's the wettest
AL home-park rainouts
Team No.
Baltimore 2
Boston 2
Cleveland 2
Detroit 2
Minnesota 2
New York 1
Texas 1
NL home-park rainouts
Team No.
Chicago 3
Pittsburgh 3
Atlanta 2
Colorado 2
New York 2
Washington 2
Cincinnati 1
Philadelphia 1
St. Louis 1

As for opening day, yes, 2011 started a few days earlier than usual as Selig rightly works to keep the World Series out of November (this fall, Game 7 is scheduled for Oct. 27).

But here's the catch with this year's March 31 openers:

Through April 12, there were only three rainouts.

Between April 12 and 19, there were nine.

So the season should have started, when? Sometime after April 20?

There's a reason everybody talks about the weather and nobody does anything about it. Or, as legendary manager Leo Durocher once said, "You don't save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain."

Poor Cleveland. Last in the majors in attendance in 2010, the Indians shockingly own baseball's best record in 2011. While they played before scores of empty seats early, last Friday, 33,774 watched Cleveland score three runs in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-4 win.

Then the Indians and Mariners were rained out on both Saturday and Sunday.

"The weather is going to get better," Selig said.

I believe he now was wearing a rain slicker and scuba mask.

Last season, there were only two rainouts in April. When the Twins opened Target Field, it was 70 degrees. And they were rained out at home only once all of last year. This year, they've already been washed out twice.

It's wet everywhere. On April 29, the Dodgers and Padres suffered four rain delays in San Diego, of all places, and the game finally was suspended at 1:40 a.m. (and completed the next day).

This week in Oakland, the start of an Angels-Athletics game was delayed 90 minutes. The Brewers and Dodgers played through rain in Los Angeles.

"We left Milwaukee and it was 50 degrees, raining and windy as hell, and we landed in Los Angeles and the weather was the same," Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker said. "I thought we circled for 4½ hours and landed in Milwaukee again."

Rain, economy, gas prices ... on Tuesday afternoon, you could purchase $2 tickets on StubHub for that night's Marlins-Mets game in New York and Blue Jays-Tigers game in Detroit. Both wound up postponed.

"We've got a great sales pitch: 'Come and watch the rain delay,'" quipped one executive.

Old records are sketchy but, since 2000, 50 rainouts in '04 is the season high. Currently, 2011 is on pace to drown that.

Beautiful days? Yeah, if you're a duck. Last year, Katy Feeney, executive vice president for scheduling and club relations, worked to jockey a large portion of the schedule around a U2 tour. Homestands were moved in certain markets. Games were flip-flopped. Then the band canceled at the last minute when lead singer Bono underwent emergency surgery.

Which is more temperamental?

"I haven't figured that out yet," Feeney said. "Bono's back, or Mother Nature."

Splish, splash.


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