Thanks to something called the polar vortex, the Midwest is about to get annihilated by brutally cold weather, and much of the rest of the country will soon follow. It's enough to make you pine for a baseball game on a sunny day.
Thing is, MLB has seen its share of deep-freeze games in its own right. In honor of the kind of weather that can cause frostbite in about 12 seconds, here are the five coldest MLB games ever recorded (the league started keeping meticulous weather records as of 1991).
Playing baseball in 29-degree weather is rough enough. But Wrigley Field brought one of its trademark set of gusty winds too, with a 22-mph cross-breeze further chilling the 35,393 fans who showed up for the home opener.
As if that weren't enough, Steve Trachsel, lovingly known as "The Human Rain Delay" for his deliberate delivery, was the starting pitcher that day for the Cubs, furthering that day's freeze. On the plus side, the Cubs were kind enough to speed up the game by erasing three of their own baserunners, two caught trying to steal, and one picked off first.
But wait, there was more. The Cubs went on to lose the game 5-3, dropping their seventh straight game to start the season. They'd then go on to lose seven more in a row, their 0-14 start becoming the second-worst in MLB history.
4. Expos at Rockies, April 12, 1997 - 28 degrees
Seeking to make Montreal's team feel at home, the Rockies first snowed out the game scheduled for the night before. The next day the two teams successfully took the (wet) field, but did so in 28-degree misery.
The hospitality ended there. Colorado's Blake Street Bombers squad banged out 12 runs on 13 hits, including a home run, three runs scored, and four times on base for former Expo (and eventual 1997 National League Most Valuable Player) Larry Walker. Meanwhile, Expos starter Jim Bullinger served up eight runs on six hits and four walks, though by knocking himself out after 1 2/3 innings, he at least got a hot shower in a hurry.
Perennially one of the top attendance teams in the league, the Rockies didn't disappoint on this frigid Saturday either, packing 50,010 fans into Coors Field.
3. Mets at Rockies, April 18, 2013 - 28 degrees
To be clear, Denver isn't actually that cold a city; it's not uncommon for temperature to hit the 50s and even 60s in January. It's just that the mountain climate produces highly erratic weather patterns, which can include arctic chills in April, and occasional snowstorms in early May.
In another week that included a snowed-out game, the Rockies and Mets managed to take the field for a teeth-chatteringly good time in Colorado's 15th game of the season. They again looked like the more comfortable of the two teams, with every starter (including pitcher Jon Garland) banging out at least one hit, en route to an 11-3 blowout win.
Minnesota's second home game of the 2018 season was, in a word, horrible. The visiting Mariners hung an 11-spot on the Twins that day, victimizing Jose Berrios, the team's hoped-for future ace, to boot.
You know what shivering fans love most? Pitching changes. There were 10 of them in this game, fueling a three-hour, 36-minute run time -- neither of those numbers being all that big in today's game, when four-hour, nine-inning games are far less uncommon than they should be, and slow walks to the mound are de rigueur.
Mercifully, the next day's game got snowed out.
1. Braves at Rockies, April 23, 2013 - 23 degrees
The quotes and color from this game were off the charts. From USA Today:
Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, who can't remember the last time he even saw snow, scurried around in the Braves' clubhouse looking for a ski cap and looking at Braves starter Mike Minor like he was crazy going out in short sleeves.
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, wearing head-to-toe thermal gear, was jumping up and down and screaming in the clubhouse. Finally, an hour before game time, he pronounced himself warm.
"It's miserable to be honest with you," Rockies manager Walt Weiss says. "It's not easy. The conditions aren't ideal. You have to control your mind." …
"The best job today," Braves first base coach Terry Pendleton said, "is to be the assistant hitting coach. That way you can stay inside and just watch the video."
As Bob Nightengale recounted in his game story, the Rockies had already postponed three games that April, and didn't want to do it again. So a phalanx of volunteers shoveled snow to end the pre-game delay get the field sort of ready, with Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd among those on scoop patrol. By the time the game started, there were about 300 people left in the stands. The Rockies went on to lose a 4-3 nail-biter, though the 2:37 run time was about as fast a game as you'll ever see at Coors.
The best part of that day's deep freeze? It dragged on into the night, as the two teams played a makeup game after dark to complete a wintry day-night doubleheader. The Rockies lost that too, getting blown out 10-2. But hey, game-time temperature for the nightcap was positively tropical -- a balmy 30 degrees.