boys of summer

Mr. Met doing snow angelsWe are closing in on the start of the Fall Classic, only we’re not. It’s more like the beginning of the Winter Routine.

Through the years the World Series has slowly been pushed further and further back on the calendar until the point we can now hear Christmas commercials sprinkled in with reports of ERA and batting averages.

It doesn’t matter which of the current teams make the big dance. October in Chicago and New York is far from summer and Kansas City is not generally balmy this time of year. In Toronto, the game is played indoors so the weather is only a factor if someone freezes to death on the way to the ballpark.

Baseball was meant to be, and has always been, a warm weather sport. That is one of the joys of going to a baseball game, sitting in the warm sun sipping a cold beverage and actually enjoying the moments between the action as a relaxing interlude before something exciting erupts.

Pictures blowing on their hands, hitters shaking off the stinging of their hands after a foul ball and fans bundled up to look like the Michelin Man, does not good baseball make. The only way fans can stay warm is to go to the concession stand and get burned by $6 hot dogs and $8 beers.

No matter how much the talking heads and powers-that-be try to convince everyone, the game itself is affected—and often lessened—by having to play in what is excellent football weather. Sometimes there are day or early afternoon games, and on occasion baseball simply gets lucky and catches reasonably warm weather in normally cold cities, but this is the exception and not the norm.

This is not to pick on the current cities involving in the playoffs. There are a myriad of cities that would offer similar weather, and even in Atlanta the last few nights the temperature has dipped into the 40s, not ideal for baseball.

And the idea of playing games in the daytime, where at least the weather may be tolerable, has long since gone by the wayside as king of the game—television—and the money it brings dictate when games are played. The idea of the World Series running till Halloween is ludicrous.

The solution is not that difficult. Reduce the regular season to about 150 games. This allows baseball to keep the expanded playoffs but complete the World Series before the end of October.

Naturally this is impossibility. Owners say reducing games will cut much needed revenues, when the more likely truth is that having fewer games down the stretch—with more teams still in the playoff picture or able to act as spoilers—would likely increase attendance in those games.

The greed of owners and television will never let this happen. More likely would be the owners going to every city and demanding a new, billion dollar indoor stadium as the solution.

And television executives consider sacrificing a virgin even if it looks like an advertising dollar may be lost. Don’t worry if the games end at midnight and kids can’t watch because they have to get up and go to school.

We all know everything is about money. Not to begrudge anyone making a dollar, and the players have certainly benefited from the revenue that pours in, but the quality of the game has suffered.

Add to that we are in football season, and football is still the king, and the interest in the World Series wanes across the country, save those teams that are in the playoffs.

The owners and mucky-mucks running baseball see no problem. They point to the game and say all is well. Perhaps it is in some respects.

But watching a World Series in late October diminishes the quality of the game and the experience of everyone involved. Heaven forbid baseball actually does something to enhance the game for the players, and totally ignoring the fan is perfectly reasonable. After all, the fans show up at those games even if they have to dress like they are going on an arctic expedition.

It’s hard to watch baseball played as a winter sport when it doesn’t have to be, but rest assured nothing will happen until fans and players demand a change. Meanwhile, the Boys of Summer, can only look forward to next spring.

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Image: Mr. Met doing snow angels via MLB.com (promotional image/fair use).

Ric Latarski

Ric Latarski has written for a variety of publications in the Atlanta area, was a stringer for Time Magazine, did commentary for Georgia Public Radio and wrote the guidebook, Atlanta: 101 Great Choices. He now writes fiction and recently completed his first novel.