Baseball, football suffer climate confusion in title games

October 26, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

St. Louis -- The cold drizzle that washed out Game 4 of the World Series last night left me pondering the sports paradox of the ages.

Why does baseball, the only major warm-weather team sport, allow its championship games to be played in terrible weather, when football, the only major all-weather sport, insists on perfect conditions for the Super Bowl?

As the nuns used to say when I asked one of those unanswerable questions in Catholic grammar school, it's just one of the mysteries.

The conditions last night were so abysmal that there would have been little question about the way to handle this situation during the regular season. The game would have been called early on and made up on a day off or as part of a doubleheader. As it was, it might have been postponed much earlier if the forecasts for the next few days were better instead of much worse.

It is within the realm of mathematical and meteorological possibility that Saturday night, when Game 6 is scheduled to be played in Detroit, they still will be trying to play Game 4 or 5 in St. Louis.

"That would be an unfortunate circumstance," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, "but if we had to, we would."

Either way, I'm not too worried. November isn't booked for anything important.

Cold warriors

Don't misunderstand: I am not advocating a switch to a neutral-site World Series, though I'm sure San Diego is nice this time of year.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn't, either. He said during yesterday's pre-game news conference that he never would be in favor of taking the Fall Classic away from local fans.

"I think it would be a crying shame to take something like this away from the fans of St. Louis or the fans of Detroit," Leyland said.

The MLB and NFL postseason models may seem paradoxical, but they are true to their economic foundations.

Baseball teams depend more heavily on local revenue, and fans buy season tickets with the expectation that they will be able to buy those same seats for all postseason games.

Football teams depend more on national revenues, and the Super Bowl has to be played at a neutral site because it's one game and it wouldn't make sense to give one team a home-field advantage.

Out of place?

Even Derek Jeter could see the incongruity, sharing the dais yesterday with all-time home run king Hank Aaron and young Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard.

Jeter, the New York Yankees' shortstop, was the AL recipient of the Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the top offensive player in each league, even though he hit only 14 home runs.

"I sort of feel out of place," Jeter said. "With Hank Aaron, the first thing that comes to mind is home runs. Ryan Howard, the same thing. So when people [asked] what award I was going to win, I stuck my chest out and I said, `You know, the Hank Aaron Award. What do you think?' "

Pool reporting

When Cardinals outfielder Preston Wilson was asked after the game was postponed last night whether he was happy that he didn't have to play in such forbidding weather, he seemed incredulous.

"You don't care what the conditions are," he said. "It's the World Series. I would play it in a swimming pool."

Fun Flanny fact

On Tuesday night, Chris Carpenter became only the third New Hampshire-born pitcher to win a World Series game. The two others were Lefty Taylor of the Chicago Cubs (Sept. 6, 1918) and a guy who's pretty familiar to Orioles fans, past and present. Mike Flanagan joined that exclusive club when he defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 1 of the 1979 World Series.

My abdication

On a personal note, my term as president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America ended yesterday, when I was replaced by Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer at the BBWAA's annual World Series meeting.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but I'm going to miss Air Force One and the Secret Service protection.

Headline follies

This week's funny headline comes from thebrushback.com, a sports humor and satire site on the Web: Star of "Prison Break" to Pitch Game 4 of World Series.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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