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Chilly Classic not right

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Call me crazy, but I do not enjoy watching baseball in late October. With no disrespect meant to Reggie Jackson, Mr. October himself, I consider baseball a spring and summer sport. Yeah, yeah, I know, the World Series is nicknamed the Fall Classic, but come on, baseball is not meant to be played when you have to wear a down jacket and ski hat to the biggest games of the season.

I love watching the Boys of Summer when the weather is nice and hot. There is nothing like heading to the ballpark in shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt. And what could be better than sitting in the stands drinking an ice-cold soda, eating a hot dog and working on your tan? Baseball didn’t become America’s pastime with wind chills in the 30s.

I am tired of having to watch the greatest baseball players in the world forced to play the most importantgames each year at a time when lousy, cold weather hits many major league cities. These conditions are not conducive for getting the most out of the players. Moreover, with the games starting later due to television schedules and excessive pregame entertainment, the temperatures have the opportunity to drop even lower by the time the first pitch is thrown.

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The coldest World Series game on record took place in 1997 between the Cleveland Indians and Florida Marlins. The wind chill in Cleveland dropped to 18 degrees and snow fell during the game. The players wore as many layers as they could under their uniforms and the portable heaters were going full blast in the dugouts. Bats were breaking and hands were stinging on any mishit ball. The weather was so bad, it was almost impossible to even play, let alone come up with a great performance.

Sure, I realize that no World Series game has ever been canceled due to wintry weather, but that is only because the TV executives and the commissioner’s office never want to have that happen. Such an attitude is not in the best interest of the players or fans. The only time the powers that be will cancel or postpone a game is due to rain and, even then, it has to be a veritable deluge for that to occur.

Let’s face it, baseball was created as a warm-weather sport, not one to be played in below-freezing temperatures, snow or sleet. I know there have been many memorable, outstanding performances in the history of the Fall Classic, but as remarkable as those accomplishments turned out, had the weather been warmer, we may have seen even greater achievements. I’ll keep checking the Weather Channel and hoping for an unexpected warm front this week.

Former Warriors star Rick Barry is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. E-mail him at rbarry@examiner.com.



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