For much of the northern U.S., it has seemed like an extended April Fools’ Day prank.
Isn’t it supposed to be spring? You wouldn’t know it by looking at any baseball diamond from T-ball to the major leagues.The Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins and more have all played through snow flurries during the early weeks of baseball season. And the weather has also obviously impacted baseball and softball at all levels. The Minnesota State High School League has even taken the drastic step of allowing five-inning doubleheaders in order to get enough games in this season. A normal single game lasts seven innings.
Teams can also opt to use just one umpire, when normally two are required for both baseball and softball. If teams choose to play more doubleheaders, that will stretch the resources for officials, necessitating such a move. And it’s not the first time it’s had to be done, the MSHSL had to mandate doubleheaders back in 2013.
Minnesota is hardly alone in experiencing the impact of an extended winter — and besides the cold temperatures and snow, fields have been in poor condition — but is there any other solution to this problem? Altering the game by shortening it and using just a single umpire, something only seen at the youth levels, is certainly less than ideal.
What’s your take?
Take 1: Get the games in, however you can.
Anybody would like to have the luxury of not having to worry about weather, but it’s a reality. States sometimes have to get creative to fit in a baseball or softball schedule before the end of the school year. Playing full-length games in a condensed schedule can lead to injury by overworking arms, and any other alternative is preferable to that.
Take 2: If you can’t play the game right, don’t play it.
It is more important to play games under the same rules, even if there are fewer of them, than to play a full schedule under different rules. In a five-inning game, some players might not even get to bat more than once. But at the same time, just a two-inning difference doesn’t do anything meaningful to prevent overuse injuries anyway. If games have to be cancelled, so be it. Everyone is in the same boat.
Perhaps there is a third option.
Take 3: Move the season to the fall or summer.
While probably the most radical option, several states have decided to just take weather out of the equation. Colorado, Missouri and South Dakota, among others, have all moved their high school softball seasons to the fall. And Iowa doesn’t even start theirs until the end of May, moving state championships to July. It would be a paradigm shift to think of baseball and softball as fall sports, but maybe that’s a good thing.
So, should high school leagues resort to shortening games? Or should teams play as many full-length games as they can get it? Or should northern states move their schedules to another season? Have your say in the comments below.
From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier
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