Anybody else out there want to see baseball and football switch seasons?
And so it was another lovely day here in Shangri-La, the calendar reading the 19th day of April, but the weather suggesting the 86th day of January.
Can’t imagine the exasperation involved with being the coach of a spring high school sport here in this cold corner of creation, particularly baseball and softball, two games meant to be played outdoors in warm weather. Make you wonder: How does one improve at baseball “practicing” inside every other day and then trying to hit and throw outside when it’s 40 degrees and windy with an excellent chance of showers?
Hence, a modest proposal, perhaps both radical and practical:
What if baseball and football switched seasons? Baseball in the fall; football in the spring.
Sure would better fit the weather, no?
Fall high school baseball would be the natural extension of the summer baseball season, thus requiring a shorter training camp. Most kids will have been playing all summer on Babe Ruth, American Legion or travel teams.
If the schedule were manipulated to begin on or about Aug. 20 — right about the time fall sports begin practice anyway — and end the last week of October, the kids would benefit from comfortable fall weather.
According to a climate data website (usclimatedata.com), the average high temperature in October is 63 degrees in Connecticut. The average low is 47 (which is the temperature at which Waterford and Montville played a baseball game earlier this week).
Championship games the last Saturday in October would likely be played in chilly weather, but nothing like what we’ve experienced this spring. The majority of the season would be played in comfortable temperatures.
Football’s move to the spring would allow it to be played in, well, football weather. The kids wouldn’t be out there in pads during the heat of August. A football game played in April weather here — 40 degrees and lousy — is more palatable than a baseball game.
Besides, aren’t we more conditioned to bundle up going to watch football? You watch baseball in a T-shirt and shorts. You watch football in a parka.
Now I realize this has no chance of ever happening. It would require ingenuity. It runs afoul of the traditional sports calendar, which dictates football gets played in the fall right there next to college football and the NFL.
But again, I ask: What serves the kids the best?
There is nothing productive about playing baseball in this weather. Nothing. There is no way to get warm and loose. Pitchers neither have the same velocity nor an adequate grip on a curveball or slider. (It must severely affect “spin rate,” too.) And trying to hit in this weather? Please. The mere thought of a jam shot sends a shiver up the spine.
Baseball is becoming a tougher sell to kids anyway. The pace does not align with the video game generation. Lacrosse seems more fun. Tell me the appeal again of standing in right field in 40-degree weather waiting for a fly ball that may never come?
I mean, we can romanticize “our national pastime” all we want. Pastoral, timeless and how a hot dog at the ballpark beats a steak at the Ritz. Sorry. The hot dog at the ballpark when it’s 37 degrees and windy against a steak at the climate controlled Ritz? Pass the A-1 sauce, sweetie.
It’s not like baseball is out of season in the fall. Actually, it’s just getting interesting. Spring football may be a harder sell, but that’s why marketing companies exist.
So to the National High School Federation, whose rules govern the games our kids play: Come spend April in Connecticut and tell me if old Mikey here isn’t making sense. It’s too cold for baseball for too long a time here in the spring. Bring on football. Imagine if the Land Of Steady Habits actually became a trend-setter?
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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