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04/23/10 10:35 PM ET
Precip finally prevails: MLB sees first PPD
Longest start without postponement in 25 years ends Friday
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
Well, Major League Baseball's 2010 schedule still does not have an unassisted rainout. But MLB does have a postponement after snow and rain ganged up on Colorado. Friday night's game in Denver between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting Florida Marlins was postponed -- a week after this season had begun uninterrupted deepest into the schedule since 1985. Officially, a total of 235 big league games were played without a postponement until near-freezing temperatures after daylong snow flurries forced cancellation of the Coors Field action. Until this wakeup call from Mother Nature, the pastime had enjoyed a historic stretch of playable, if not totally tropical, April weather. The tipoff that it would be an uncommonly cooperative month had come on Opening Night, when near-70 degrees greeted the Yankees and the Red Sox in Fenway Park. A week later, the thermometer hit 80 in Chicago, turning it into a calm Windy City. What in the name of the Farmer's Almanac was going on here? Definitely not a real-life spinoff of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. Baseball's weather aftcast: Dry, with only temporary precipitation. Those rain-check stubs on tickets have been about as useful as rabbit ears atop television sets. This was the deepest the game has gotten into its season without a weather-related postponement in a quarter-century. And that's a convenient truth. Furthermore, this was only the second time since 1960 -- now we're talking a half-century -- that the Major League season reached April 23 without a single disruption. The first rainout in 1960 happened on April 26. The tarps, however, couldn't remain rolled up long enough to match the 1985 dry spell. That season did not experience its first rainout until May 20, when the Brewers' game in Cleveland was soaked out. But one interesting thing about MLB's housing situation in 1985 was that two of its colder-climate teams, the Minnesota Twins and the Seattle Mariners, still played under roofs. Now the open-air Twins are in brand new Target Field -- where game-daytime highs have averaged 67 degrees through Thursday afternoon's match with Cleveland. Since 1999, the Mariners have played with the luxury of a retractable roof to combat the Emerald City's often showery early spring conditions, but they only needed cover in three of their first nine home games. The fact there hadn't been a breakdown in the schedule for so long was even more remarkable when you consider the, well, breakdown of the schedule. When scanning the first-month slate, gloomsayers typically criticized the early load of games in chancy areas, as opposed to the available warm-weather locales. Indeed, 53 percent of the first 224 games -- through Thursday -- were booked into places that actually have weather, on the East Coast or in the Midwest. And they have all been played, too. Obviously, the streak came to an end in the most ironic way possible -- with the Florida Marlins in the Mile High City. One practical reason for the integrity of the schedule is the advancement in field management technology. Improved drainage systems have helped make fields playable after the clouds part. Although there had been no prior postponements, some games had experienced considerable delays due to rain, and others have been shortened by the wet stuff: On April 11, the Braves and the Giants played an unscheduled "doubleheader" of rainfall and ball, waiting out a delay of four hours and nine minutes at AT&T Park before San Francisco could post a 6-3 win. On April 16, the Reds-Pirates game in PNC Park was held up an hour and nine minutes by rain. Rain "held over" last Friday's Tampa Bay-Boston game in Fenway Park, which had to be suspended when tied in the ninth inning and completed the following night. On that same evening, the Yankees had to play only part-time for a 5-1 win over the Rangers, curtailed to six innings by rain after a wait of an hour and five minutes.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.