Global Warming might not be the official reason to blame for the Defenders missing their first four games of the season, but the delay privately has some, inside and outside of baseball organizations, wondering how to deal with the weather.
Realistically, this spring's cold snap is probably just a bad season, but as 13 games were postponed in the Eastern League alone this past weekend, some wonder how good baseball can be in the old Northeast, even in April.
There's often been a lot of talk about why hitters never seem to succeed in the Eastern League, and weather is a common scapegoat. It's not unusual to see hitters, especially those who play farther north, come alive as the weather thaws in summer. And some fear this spring's weather issues are just the start. There's even been some rumblings of talks to move all the season opening games to the division's Southern' Division.
This talk is silly and will end up in nothing. It's the minor league equivalent of a slow news day, since for them, there wasn't much to talk about except it. The teams in the Southern Division are in places like Pennsylvania, and the Erie SeaWolves are actually further North than Norwich Connecticut. Only the Bowie, Maryland, BaySox are significantly south. The truth is, the Southern Division is more of a Western Division. And it's the Clevelad Indians, who are not far from the Akron Aeros, who have gotten snowed out in the majors.
It's also unlikely all the owners could agree on such a plan for a dramatic change to the schedule.
This also brings up interesting discussions about the Giants affiliation with the team. There was a bit of controversy before the Giants and Defenders extended their affiliation last season. Some thought the Giants may want to pull out of Dodd Stadium, to give their hitters a better chance to develop, and in fact, there were plans to change the stadium's configuration last offseason. Those changes did not happen, as a movie being filmed there prevented the team from making them.
On the other hand, there were some in Connecticut who felt that the Giants did not send their top prospects there. The Defenders team has not been strong the past few years since the Giants affiliated, and some felt that the new owners might want to change.
In the end, neither organization did. In the past. the Giants have said that having a team in the Northeast was important, due to the ties the Giants still acknowledge they have with old New York Giants fans. And both teams are likely to pass off the weather as a fluke. After all, there was one season with the Hagerstown Suns where the start of the season was so delayed by rain that the team started calling itself the ‘Rains'.
It will, however, be interesting to see if changes are made to Dodd Stadium after this year, and if attendance does not improve, how the talk will go during and after the 2008 season, when the current affiliation agreement is up.
Meanwhile, the Defenders have three more trips to Portland this year, with plenty of opportunities to make up even four games.
Nope, the weather is simply a part of life and of the game. That will have to be dealt with.
Player of the week: Travis Ishikawa.
Perhaps the week was only one game, but Ishikawa's Double-A return was encouraging. Ishikawa has long been a player with borderline stats but tons of potential that kept people encouraged, but last season's oft-interrupted performance was very discouraging. Ishikawa came back with a home run, a walk, and led the team in RBI (he was the only player with two in their first game). He will have more to do before he generates the sort of chatter that might get him promoted to Triple-A, but Monday was a good start.
By The Numbers: 12
12 is the number of games played by other Giants affiliates before the Defenders finally got to play one themselves.
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