So I went to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium this year, on March 31st. While I understand and appreciate that MLB wanted to start the year four or five days earlier, so that there would be no chance of having a World Series game on November 4th (grrrrrr…. the reason I wasn’t there to enjoy the Yankees’ victory in 2009 was because I was on an annual business trip that NORMALLY would not come close to conflicting), in April it’s always a statistics game with the weather man. Each day closer to May the chance of having a warm day goes up.
I’m not just saying that. I’m a SABR member after all, and part of what we do is analyze history based on the statistical record. Well, looking at that record, the chance for warm on March 31st in New York City was pretty slim. The normal low on March 31st is 39 degrees, the normal high 51. 51 would have been GREAT. However note that the record low for March 31st is 22 degrees. If you love graphs, check this one out that shows the steady march upward of averages from March 1st through 31st:
(Courtesy of NYCWeather.us)
Now check out April and you’ll see the average temperatures much more firmly in the humane 50s and 60s, with even the lowest temps a bit more survivable.
The upshot of all this is that my overwhelming memory of the Opening Day 2011 season is that it was COLD. Verlander of Detroit’s Tigers pitched a three-hit gem, and yet the Yankees got three runs in the process thanks to one of them being a three-run homer by Mark Teixeira, who finally seems to have the formula to beat a “slow start” like he traditionally has. Sabathia wasn’t his best, but he kept them in the game, and Granderson added a homer against his old team as well (hit off Phil Coke, who was traded for him, haha). The final three innings were a preview of a pattern that would emerge over the following week–“Jo-So-Mo”–referring to Joba in the seventh, Soriano in the eighth, and Mariano in the ninth.
Not a lot was new at the Stadium this year that we noticed. The white championship flags that flew all last year had reverted to the usual divisional team flags (rearranged daily to show the standings). I hear there is new stuff in the museum but I wasn’t going to fight my way in there on opening day when I’ll surely have a more leisurely chance later in the season. There is a new design for collectible hot chocolate & coffee cups. That’s the kind of thing I was noticing, because it was so cold the vendors were resorting to walking around selling hot chocolate. One of my companions brought a beer back to the seats and we were too cold to drink it.
Another cold note, it was the first opening day I’ve been to without Freddy the Fan. We miss you Freddy.
I ended up spending the entire sixth inning in the women’s room, where it was like a sauna, thank goodness. Another of our group spent a whole inning in the men’s room, which he said was like a party going on there were so many people huddled in there.
The actual game-time temperature, if you must know, was 40 degrees. However, it was also drizzling with a steady wind. Acuweather’s “feels like” indicator said “Feels like 23 degrees.”
It was colder than that Opening Day where Chuck Knoblauch played left field for the first time and got a standing ovation for catching a ball. Heck, it was so cold that day that when the SUN came out, even that got a standing o. (Maybe we just felt warmer standing up…) It was also colder than the opening day where Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam, his first game at Yankee Stadium, a game which had been delayed by a day because of snow. Yes, I was there, too.
I seriously think it’s time to go back to a 154 game schedule, so that there is room for actual baseball during actual baseball weather as well as the three-tiered playoff system. The April games are the worst attended of the entire season (right, Bud?) so the revenue lost wouldn’t be that significant, and guess what? That might even make a bit of time for the World Baseball Classic to be played without making everyone scream, as well. Please Mr. Commissioner, give it a thought, or start building a dome in the Bronx.
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