Sunday, April 15, 2018

April baseball is filled with blizzards and down time

The backyard.
It's April 15, and it hasn't stopped snowing for two straight days. Hello, blizzard of 2018.

This also means that the Minnesota Twins haven't played much baseball lately. They beat the White Sox at home on Thursday, the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series at Target Field. Instead, the final three games of that series were postponed (not canceled; there's a difference) because of inclement weather. In this case, "inclement weather" means there was a gigantic blizzard that hit the Twin Cities.

First, Friday was a mix of cold temps, sleet and rain that contributed to the game getting called off for the night. At that point (and even earlier in the week), everyone pretty much figured Saturday's game wasn't going to happen, with the snow arriving later Friday night. Yes, Saturday was also postponed as of that morning.

Sunday was initially questionable, because who wants to postpone three games in a row? But as the feet of snow kept falling, they canned Sunday's contest late Saturday afternoon. The White Sox could head out for their next road series in Oakland (enjoy!) while the Twins flew down to Puerto Rico Sunday afternoon to prepare for their two-game series there against Cleveland this week.

Oh, and last Sunday's game was postponed, too. That was against Seattle, a day after the coldest game in Twins history was played. The Twins already have four postponements on their schedule - and again, it's only April 15. The season just started.

Of course, it's been a very odd start to the season, thanks to the weather. When they've played, the Twins have been good. Jose Berrios has pitched well; he tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts in the first-and-only game against the White Sox. Joe Mauer reached the 2,000 hits milestone that same night, and it was cool for him to accomplish the milestone in front of the home crowd on a chilly April evening.

They opened the season in Baltimore on March 29 and lost in extra innings, but they recovered to win the series. They split a couple games in Pittsburgh, where the weather wasn't much better than Minnesota with heavy snow flurries and wind for the game-two night game.

The Twins won their home opener on April 5 to start a 10-game homestand with a few home runs in a 4-2 victory over the Mariners. Technically, the homestand is a season-long 12 games, since the Puerto Rico games are considered home games for the Twins. Still, having the Twins play 10 games in April to start their home schedule is kind of asking for the baseball-weather gods to screw you over.

With spring really not arriving at all so far, temperatures have been frigid for the brave fans who venture to the outdoor ballpark. Note: I will not get into a stadium debate in this blog. The coldest game in Twins history was 27 degrees at first pitch. The Twins lost to Seattle 11-4 that day. Technically, it was series split since the finale was postponed.

April 7, 2018: The coldest Twins game in history.
When the Twins start play in Puerto Rico, they'll hold a 7-4 record with 11 games played in 19 days. That will be the fewest number of games played in baseball, I believe. Let me also point out that the Twins aren't the only ones that have had weather issues this season. On April 15, no team from the American League Central finished a baseball game.

There are plenty of off days to start anyway. With each team's home opener in a cooler city, there's an off day after the opener. So, the Twins had two off days after they played the first games in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Then there was the off day after the home opener. They also have two off days built in around the Puerto Rico series.

It's just a strange start to the season, for all involved. First, they started the season in March. Then it's just been tough to get into a rhythm with so much cold weather and days without a baseball game. Because even when games have been played, the only relatively nice weather the Twins have experienced was in Baltimore. They came home to host the Mariners and then took two-of-three games from the defending-champion Houston Astros the beginning of last week.

Of course, there's nothing anyone can do about the weather. We just have to react to it and try to plan accordingly. In baseball terms, that usually means making up games with doubleheaders and taking away previously-scheduled off days to get the games in later in the season.

It's disappointing because the start of the baseball season is exciting. Opening Day is always fun and full of anticipation. Players are looking to get started on the right foot with their seasons individually. Teams hope to gain some momentum on their way to a division title or playoff berth at the end of 162 games. To borrow from a quote in car racing, you can't win a race on the first lap (April for baseball), but you can lose it.

It's just frustrating to not get the season started without a bunch of weather getting in the way. Here's to hoping better weather and more victories are in the future!