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Weather Or Not: Can Baseball Avoid Early-Season Bad Weather?

It's two-thirds of the way through April, yet the weather forecast reads more like mid-March:

Today: Rain, possibly mixed with snow, becoming all rain after 1pm. High near 46. Breezy, with a west northwest wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tonight: A 30 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39. Northwest wind between 10 and 15 mph.

Brrr. Those are awful conditions in which to play baseball; uncomfortable for fans and players alike, and with a wet field there's the risk of injury.

Many people complain that the season is too long. But look at the 1961 Cub schedule, from the last year of the 154-game schedule before expansion hit the National League. Opening Day was April 11 and the final regular-season game was October 1. (Note also several two or three day gaps in the April results -- that's probably from weather postponements.) That's only eight days shorter than the 2009 season. Of course, with only one round of postseason play -- the World Series -- in 1961, the season ended on October 9, four weeks earlier than the possible final date of this year's World Series on November (that's right, November) 5, although Bud and his cronies claim they're going to try to eliminate some of the off days from the new postseason schedule before this October.

You're just as likely to get nice weather in the northern half of the USA as bad weather in mid to late October -- I can remember several Halloweens on which the temperature reached the mid-70's -- although the bad weather, as seen in Philadelphia during the World Series last year, can wreak havoc with baseball's most important games.

So what's the answer? There's no way MLB will go back to a 154-game schedule; no team would agree to eliminate four home dates and the resulting revenue. The same is true for shortening the schedule by scheduling doubleheaders; no team wants to give two games away for the price of one. That's a real change from decades ago, when teams felt that doubleheaders would attract larger crowds (and many times, they did). That's also during the time when games were shorter and a full DH could be played in about five hours, rather than seven.

"What about split-admission doubleheaders?", you might ask. Well, that would solve the revenue problem, but then the hourly employees at the ballpark have to be paid for longer days, and virtually everyone else -- broadcasters, players, and fans -- hate them, since they put you at the park for 12-14 hours, depending on how long the games go.

If you've got another, creative answer -- let's hear it. In the meantime, if you're going to tonight's game, dress warm, and bring rain/snow gear.