First Pitch: Baseball in the Summertime

I hate cold rain.

It’s by far my least favorite combination of weather.

Rain, in general, means I’m either coming off a migraine, or still in the midst of one. But cold rain is dark, gloomy, and depressing. It makes you want to stay in all day and do nothing.

We’ve got cold rain happening a lot this week in North Carolina. Cold rain typically comes up at the end of fall/early winter, or at the end of winter/early spring. Those seasons are a bit subjective on a week where I’m seeing reactions to snow storms in the north. But that’s just how seasons work. They don’t hit us all at the same time.

There’s something about rain when it turns to snow that softens the blow. The air is still cold and brisk, but when the snow falls it’s like a silence has been placed over the Earth momentarily, and it’s deafening. We have to clean it all up afterward, but it’s a pretty nice moment when it’s coming down.

The extreme temperatures that our seasons provide have a way of impacting us during those times. We’ve even adjusted our entire lives to fit those seasonal transitions.

Spring is a transition forward. It’s when you graduate to a new level of school for the first 18-30 years of your life, followed by watching younger generations continue the trend. The weather shifts from cold to warm, never really settling, and with some gloomy showers mixed in, but a sign of hope for the future.

Fall is a slow decline from the fiery flames of the summer time. Yeah, the freedom was fun, and life moves at a face pace between the months of June and August. But you’re tired of the heat, and you don’t realize it until that first day when you have to decide whether you want to throw on pants or shorts. You realize that the rain during the summer provided an escape and a break, rather than an interruption.

We go back to school. We settle in new houses that we for some reason tend to buy between early spring and the start of fall. We gear up for key earnings periods at work. And fall still brings the rain, which gets colder as the season goes on.

Things get colder, and you don’t realize it until you miss the shorts from the summer time, and miss complaining about the heat. You could always go south to prolong the summer. But you’re mostly going to stay inside, because it’s warm, and because everything around you is dying outside.

By the time winter rolls around, there is no sign of life on the trees. The sky turns dark before the day even ends. And when that rain comes down, it comes down slow, in tiny crystals, quietly crashing around and decorating the grave of nature that will be reborn in mere months.

Spring will bring hope.

Summer will bring commerce.

Fall will bring a focus into what is important, as we begin our hibernation.

Winter allows us to rest until the cycle starts again.

And the rain never stops.

*****

I’m not saying this is what MLB is doing…

I’m just saying this makes sense…

I’m an organization that is selling a mostly outdoor experience, and making most of my money from massive TV streaming deals — especially in the playoffs — then I’m going to try and find a way to shift my season back to where there’s less early-Spring action, and more late-fall action.

This maximizes both avenues of the league’s ability to generate funds, which are the TV streaming deals and the attendance sales.

Push the attendance window to May, when you’re less likely to have lower turnouts from cold weather and the rain showers that produce chaos on the schedule.

Push the playoff schedule to November, and play it in warmer climates where it’s still summer/early fall. A small percentage of your viewers will be upset that they won’t get to watch the games live, but you’ll sell tickets to people in the southern cities, and people from the northern cities will travel to see their team. Plus, this all plays to more TV revenue, at a time when more and more people are watching TV, and at a time when you are the only league with playoff action in the midst of meaningless regular season games.

Major League Baseball has a monopoly on the summer time experience. The attendance figures go up in the spring as the weather gets warmer, and stay up in the fall if a team is worth following, regardless of the weather. So why play any games in April, ever, especially when you have to compete with two indoor sports leagues reaching the climax of their season?

I’m not saying MLB is taking advantage of the current pandemic to try and adjust the schedule to maximize its impact on their revenue streams.

I’m just saying it would be a smart move if they went that route long-term.

Sure, the fans in cold weather cities would hate it, never seeing a playoff game in their cold fall/winter towns again.

But when has MLB ever cared about the fans when making decisions that could maximize revenue?

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