Snowpening Day: The Scourge of Winter Encroaches on the Boys of Summer
The Mets opened the season at Citi Field today against the Washington Nationals. Snow opened the day in New York City. Is freezing anyway to play America's pastime?
Thankfully, the only white sticking on the Queens field was the tarp protecting the infield from snow, sleet, and rain. So, the game went off, if not as planned, at least on time.
In Massachusetts, where grounds crews thankfully have four days to prepare Fenway Park for the home opener, snow fell today accompanied by miserable rawness. The defending World Series champions open against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, when the thermometer may reach fifty.
Elsewhere, one of the coldest winters on record has receded right on cue for the unofficial first day of spring. Opening Day in Cincinnati, which has endured a brutal winter, hits highs in the sixties for the Reds-Cardinals matchup. Baseball fans in Chicago similarly feel the unfamiliar warmth as the White Sox take on the the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field, which just a few weeks ago posed for the above picture doused in ice and snow. The mercury will be in the mid-forties and climbing at Comerica Park as the Detroit takes on the Kansas City Royals.
The warm spell brings welcome relief for baseball fans in both the AL and NL Central Divisions. Chicago and other cities in the upper-Midwest struggled through some of their coldest and snowiest winters on record, leaving grounds crews scrambling in the last few weeks to make white fields green for opening day.
"This has actually been the perfect storm for me," U.S. Cellular Field groundskeeper Roger Bossard told the Associated Press before the season. "I've been in this for 45 years and I've seen a lot of snow. Certainly, that's not hard to handle.... My problem actually is the permafrost. I've actually never run into where I've got 30 inches of permafrost."
The National Climatic Data Center reports more than 2,000 all-time low temperatures for March versus just 242 highs. So baseball fans put their rally caps on for the first full day of the season not to inspire their teams, most of which started the day tied for first place, but for Mother Nature. Cheering baseball fans have a way of scaring Jack Frost away.