Dickey: Frigid weather and baseball don’t mix

Is the World Series finally over? I didn’t watch an inning. I don’t even care that the New York Yankees won, and this is a team I’ve hated since I first started following baseball. This is football season, college and pro, not baseball.

The World Series should be played in early October, as it was before Bud Selig became commissioner. At this point, the NFL is in midseason. College football teams are pointing to bowl games. It’s no time for baseball.

Even before Selig, the season had been expanded to 162 games, but he’s made other changes, including breaking the leagues into divisions, adding the wild card and extending spring training, which have caused the baseball calendar to end much later.

This is a commissioner who is always telling people he loves baseball, but he has no regard for the game’s traditions.

More than any other sport, baseball fans revere the game’s traditions. The NFL changes rules every year, and fans don’t care — or even know. Basketball isn’t remotely the game it was 50 years ago.

But many baseball fans, mostly those who follow National League games, hate the designated hitter rule, the only really significant rule change in baseball. Many hate the idea of instant replay, though the postseason games this year show the need for them.

They hate change of any kind in their favorite sport.

Selig should have learned his lesson about the World Series. He and the players association played a game of chicken in 1994, which resulted in the cancellation of the World Series. Many fans were so upset that they never came to another game. It wasn’t until the great home run race of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both shattered Roger Maris’ single-season mark of 61, that baseball attendance recovered.

But now Selig is tampering again with baseball’s crown jewel, just to bring in more money for owners who are already rich beyond the dreams of fans.

All sports seasons are too long. A friend pointed out to me that the NHL season is so long that a woman could conceive a child on opening night and deliver before the Stanley Cup was over.

The NBA season, with playoffs, stretches into June. The NFL plays its Super Bowl in February. But the first two sports are played indoors and the Super Bowl can be scheduled for domed stadiums.

Baseball is the game most affected by weather because cold hands bother pitchers, hitters and fielders. It’s not the precision game it should be when it’s played on cold nights in November, as it was this year.

There are certain givens in this situation. Owners are not going to cut the season back to 154 games because they’d lose revenue — and players wouldn’t agree to reduce their salaries proportionately. The divisional playoffs and wild cards won’t change.

But there are changes that can be made. Spring training should be cut back so the season could start earlier, and in warm weather cities so there would be less chance of postponed games. Teams should schedule day/night doubleheaders, with separate tickets so there would be no loss of revenue.

With those changes, the regular season could end in mid-September and, even with the playoffs, the World Series would be in October, where it belongs.

And, we wouldn’t have to wonder who would be “Mr. November.” Ugh.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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