- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Boy, Mother Nature sure wreaked some havoc on baseball’s opening week, didn’t it?

Nationals fans lucked out with beautiful weather on opening day, but the few fans that came out to RFK over the weekend are still waiting for the icicles from their nostrils to thaw. Wintry weather caused problems in several cities, most notably in Cleveland where snowy conditions necessitated the cancellation of the opening series against the Mariners and also forced the Indians-Angels series to be relocated to Miller Park in Milwaukee.

The folks at Major League Baseball need to learn that fans do not want to watch baseball games when it’s 30 degrees outside and it’s snowing. Some of these players look absolutely ridiculous in ski masks worn under their caps, and the fans look like they’re having about as much fun as Don Imus at an NAACP convention.

Look at some of these attendance figures: 16,617 for the Nats-D-Backs game on Saturday night; 24,881 for a game last week between the Blue Jays and defending AL-champion Tigers in Detroit; 15,825 for Saturday’s Reds-Pirates game in Cincinnati.

It may be logistically difficult, but baseball should consider having teams like Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh play on the road for the first two weeks of the year. Yes, it’s annoying, but the players don’t want to play in the cold and the fans don’t want to endure it. And postponements caused by snow and cold rain can really cause problems for everyone. The Seattle-Cleveland situation is particularly bad, because the Mariners don’t make another trip to play the Indians again all year. When and how the two teams will make up those games is beyond me.

This issue of weather is quite relevant to fans of the Twins, who are anxiously awaiting the construction of a new open-air stadium to replace the Metrodome. For a variety of reasons — stemming mainly from the team’s miserliness — the new ballpark will not have a retractable roof even though Minneapolis is probably the last place in the continental U.S. anyone would want to watch baseball outside in early April. (Current weather conditions in Minneapolis: 42 degrees with cold rain and chance of snow later. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack and hot chocolate.)

The most amazing thing about the Twins ballpark plans is that not only are there no plans to build a roof, the design of the stadium can’t accommodate the installation of a roof at a later date.

Twins officials have been defending the choice to go open-air all week. No word yet on whether each seat will come with a personal cupholder and space heater.

“Some fans want to believe a magic funding source will emerge to pay for a roof,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said in a blog on MLB.com. “The reality is the Twins and Hennepin County are 100 percent committed to building a great OPEN-AIR park.”

Said Twins spokesman Kevin Smith, in an interview with KARE-TV: “It’s going to be outdoors and we’re just going to have to acclimate ourselves to it.”

Or, Twins fans could acclimate themselves to sitting at home and watching the games on television for the first month of the year. Kinda defeats the purpose of building a new ballpark in the first place, doesn’t it?

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