Baseball has several crowned jewels with the Home Run Derby and the Hall of Fame, but maybe none of baseball’s spectacles are more special than opening day. On Sunday, the MLB had three games open up the 2016 season in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. The weather in all three cities (Tampa/Toronto game was indoors) stayed baseball-compatible, but on Monday, this was not the case when the remainder of the MLB had to play their opening games, specifically Cleveland, New York and Baltimore. The Yankees’ opening game against the Houston Astros in the Bronx was postponed due to a snowstorm in the Northeast while the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox had their game postponed due to raw 19-degree temperatures in Northeast-Ohio.
Opening Day postponed in Cleveland. Tomorrow at 1:10.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 4, 2016
Wussy decision, by the way. Forecast calls for cold and wind. No rain.
— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) April 4, 2016
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 4, 2016
April is not a month known for its spectacular weather in the Northeast and cities bordering the Great Lakes (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, etc). It is obviously impossible for Major League Baseball to predict the weather in these cities months ahead of time when the 2016 schedule is being made, but how did nobody think to take caution when it came down to scheduling games in these parts of the country in the first week of April? There is a reason why MLB teams hold their spring training sessions down in either Florida or Arizona, and that is because these areas have a climate that is suitable for baseball throughout the months of February and March. April is not quite the Arctic Tundra in Northern cities (although Boston/New York are currently getting pounded by snow), but there is always the chance of in-climate weather and unseasonable snow storms. The fact that the MLB decided to allow the Yankees to host an opening day game rather than the Astros, a team who not only plays 1,500 miles south but in a ballpark with a retractable roof, is absurd. Yes, the MLB does not want a city who shares it’s large market between two teams like New York to have both teams start on the road. But, when it comes to picking venues for games the following season, the MLB should put these games in places where they know the game will be playable during that time of the year, not where they will make the most money.
With the Final Four in Houston this weekend, it would have been difficult to schedule a baseball series across the street from NRG Stadium at Minute Maid Park as the downtown Houston-area would have been a mess in that case. But, all of this is rather irrelevant as baseball could have easily sent both the Yankees or Astros to different places that do not have the risk of unseasonable snow in early April. Opening day matchups between the Los Angeles Dodgers/San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers (indoor stadium)/San Francisco Giants could have been switched to have the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians traveling south to avoid the risk of in-climate weather in the North. One cannot make the argument that it is impractical to have inter-league play open up a season in order to accommodate the possibility of bad weather at the start of the baseball season as the Chicago Cubs are opening up their season against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.
Baseball already has its spring training held in the south, so it is only fair to the fans for the MLB to schedule games that they know can be played on opening day in cities that the chance of unseasonable snow or incredibly cold temperatures occurring is low. There is certainly a risk that southern cities could get unseasonably bad weather in the first week of April, but the risk is far less than that of Cleveland or New York. The idea of having their team start the first week or two of every season on the road may seem a bit unfair to the fans of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians, but unfortunately, these teams play in markets that do not have the most baseball-friendly weather in the early parts of the season. In order to ensure that opening day sees the maximum amount of games played, baseball has to switch its schedule in the future and have these teams play on the road to begin the year and allow more home games for these Northern cities throughout the summer and end of the season. Whether that means sending these teams to National League ballparks to begin the season, or maybe holding games in international venues like Japan, Australia, or Cuba, baseball has to find a way to avoid early-season postponements.