Game 3: Should we talk about the weather?

coorsDENVER—A few years ago a friend moved from the harsh cold of New England to San Francisco. Needless to say this was quite a change for the guy. Instead of shoveling snow and dressing up to fend off the bitterly cold winters, all he had to do was layer up for summer nights.


That was until he felt his first earthquake. Actually, by California standards it was a pretty tame one, but unnerving for an easterner, nonetheless. Worse, the quake came at 2 a.m. when he was sitting at home and ready to call it a night. All of a sudden he heard a loud noise that sounded like a truck backfiring in the next room and some wobbling that sent a dish flying off a counter.

In all, it was no big deal. There was hardly any damage to the city other than a few cracked glasses and plates and most folks seemed to sleep right through it, he said.

But 3,000 miles away, the entire eastern seaboard was gripped by a deathly cold snap from Ol’ Man Winter. Apparently, when folks even considered going outside they moved quickly and stealthy like alligators. They did what they had to and went straight back indoors and spread Vaseline all over themselves as if they were about to swim across the English Channel.

Yes, it was that cold.

Interestingly, my friend got a few phone calls from his friends back east asking questions about San Francisco and the earthquake. Really, easterners just don’t know despite the fact that earthquakes are quite common throughout parts of New England and even Pennsylvania. In fact, a few months ago we even had a little rumbler of about 4.2 magnitude in Lancaster, Pa.

It sounded like a truck backfiring.

Anyway, the best question my friend was asked compared the earthquakes to the cold snap. Having been through both at different points, my friend was an expert.

“Which is worse,” he was asked. “The earthquake in California or the below-zero temperatures in the east?”

The answer was pretty comical.

“Well,” my friend said. “I never had to run screaming at 3 a.m. in my underwear looking for a doorway for protection because it was cold. I’m going to say the earthquake is worse.”

Here in Denver a bunch of us are acting as if we’re running around in our underwear looking for a doorway. It’s cold. It’s damn cold. And it’s certainly too cold to be out running around in your underwear.

But that’s it—it’s just cold. Sure, there is snow on the ground and the nighttime temperature for tonight’s scheduled Game 3 is forecast to be in the single digits. Remember how it was playing baseball when it was freezing cold and you hit a ball with an aluminum bat? That’s stinging sensation in your hands happens with wood bats, too. That’s especially the case when the pitcher purposely throws it in on the hitters’ hands with the intent on causing that feeling.

coldStill, it’s just cold. Cold happens sometimes. Football players layer up when it’s cold, golfers have certain clothes and precautions for when it’s chilly and distance runners, the toughest of the lot, just go run. They might put on some mittens.

Though the extra weight of the mittens might not be worth it.

Baseball is different. A summer rain sends players scurrying for the clubhouse because rain causes grass to get slick and then someone could fall down.

Really… someone could fall down.

Publically, the players on the Rockies and Phillies said all the right things about the prospect of playing Game 3 in record-low temps on Saturday night. Pedro Martinez, who is from the Dominican Republic, said he couldn’t wait to get out there and have fun. Cold? Whatever. Pedro even talked about the very first time he saw snow.

“When I saw snow, I actually stopped to grab a little bit and put it in my mouth and see if it felt like ice,” Pedro said. “But it’s something you get accustomed to.”

Yes, because it never got cold when Pedro was pitching in Boston. What would he do?

Pedro doesn’t have to worry about it now. Apparently, all it took was a cold day in Denver to get him off the mound. Instead, J.A. Happ, a kid from the Chicago suburbs, will pitch in Game 3 in the relatively mild climes of Sunday night. Better yet, Happ, Pedro and their teammates can breathe a faux sigh at the prospect of not going out there on Saturday night.

The funny part was that the only guy who went on record to say it would be silly to play baseball in single-digit weather with snow flurries at mid-level altitude was the dude from Canada.

“When it’s cold, you look for that sweet little spot so you can hit it on the nose every time,” Stairs said. “It’s uncomfortable for fans to sit there and watch a game. For me, I’m warm up here watching the game on TV till I have to pinch hit. I feel bad for the guys who have to play every day. There’s no advantage to either team in cold weather. You’re more patient as a hitter. It might knock down a run game a little bit with the tight muscles.”

Nevertheless, Stairs, from New Brunswick, isn’t impressed with the forecast though he says it makes for bad baseball.

“That’s short-sleeve weather,” he said. “I’ve played in games when it was 30 below.”

Maybe so, but not this time.

Mother Nature 1, Everyone else 0

Brett FavreThe weather has a tendency to get a little chilly in the month of January as folks may have noticed from walking outdoors, watching football on television or from watching the little soft-shoe routine those suspenders-and-sports coat frocked slicksters pull off every night on the evening news. The weather is big business on local TV news. In fact, it is such big business that there are song lyrics that go:

“Murder and weather is our only news…”

If those lyrics don’t exist, they should.

Anyway, the middle part – the part about football, the outdoors and that nip, nip, nip at your nose – is the intriguing part. The truth is I tuned in to last Sunday’s Giants-Packers just to see how cold it was. Oh sure, I had a sneaking suspicion that Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre just might do something crazy enough to sabotage the game for his team, and in that regard I suppose no one was disappointed. But really, the outcome of the game was pretty meaningless. All I wanted to see what Favre’s breath turn from a plume of carbon dioxide and crystallize into a free-floating diamond-shaped ball of ice.

My guess is that it was something that other folks wanted to see, too. Actually, it appeared as if the only story of the game wasn’t Favre trying to get back to the Super Bowl one last time or Eli Manning attempting to copy his big brother and make it to the big game, but instead it was the coffee-sicle that formed in Terry Bradshaw’s mug during the pre-game show. Because, as it is, if it’s negative-three degrees without the wind chill in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the smart thing to do is hold the pre-game show out of doors. That way the frostbite that forms on Howie Long’s exposed extremities can be used as a tax write-off because technically it was a live experiment kind of like the stuff they do on Nova.

What, do you really think people cared if Howie broke down the Cover-2? Hell, the viewers at home wanted permanent scarring. It makes the frozen coffee go down smoother.

Now I don’t know where the idea that meteorology is a pseudo-science came from. It didn’t come from me, I can tell you that much. But what they don’t tell you during football games and TV weather reports is that cold weather hurts. It actually causes pain to a person more than a muggy scorcher in August ever could. No, cold temperatures don’t make one wake up screaming in the middle of the night and running off to find a doorway with your sleeping cap slouched to the side. That’s the move for an earthquake. But cold weather can freeze pipes and cause them to burst making floods or fires or both. Certainly that’s no picnic.

Interestingly though, the pain of cold temperatures in this part of the world only lasts a little while. At least that’s the way it worked out for me on Sunday and Monday when I decided to go out for a run. Hey, if they’re playing football all the way out there in Wisconsin, which is close to Canada and very near outer space where it gets as nippy as your Aunt Tilly’s gazpacho, I figured I ought to get out there and get my work in.

So out I went during the coldest part of the day, which, according to the Accuweather web site, was a raw negative-1 degree on the ol’ real feel index. Apparently such numbers are deduced when one accounts for the temperature, wind speed and direction, the time of day and on-base percentage. In other words it’s the Moneyball of weather. But the thing I learned about running around in ultra-cold weather was that it’s all about the wind. When the wind blows at one’s face it’s bad. When it blows at your back, it ain’t all that.

But you get used to it. At least that’s the way it went down on Sunday thanks to some effort and creative rambling. During a 60-minute effort the first few moments are the key. That’s when one decides whether to keep at it, thus proving oneself as an evolved life being that continuously takes strides at improvement. Or, it’s when one says out loud to no one, “This is stupid. I’m going back home so I can strip down, flop on the couch, order up a mushroom ‘boli and watch Rachel Ray… or whatever.”

beerClearly I’m evolved, but during the first couple of minutes as I negotiated through the neighborhood, I thought, “Wow! It’s cold! It’s really, really cold! Oh well, I guess it will be OK when I warm up.”

The notion of personal evolvement disappeared approximately five minutes into the run when I passed by a friend’s house, turned to look to spy someone moving around inside and realized that I couldn’t feel my face. Oh, I could touch it, but I couldn’t feel it.

“Is this dangerous?” I thought. “This feels like it could be dangerous. This isn’t dangerous is it?”

I realized I made a mistake when I put a gloved hand to my face and it felt like a bee sting. That sensation soon went away when my toes felt as though I had just dropped a canned ham on them. But oddly enough – after just 15 minutes of running – everything was back to normal. The wind had shifted, the swarm of bees that peppered my face had rubbed it with aloe and everything was back in order. The strut around the ‘hood was no longer dangerous. Instead, it was fun… as long as the wind remained where it was.

It looked as if the football players were out there having fun in Green Bay, too. Better yet, it didn’t look as if the cold temperatures changed much about the performances at all. Plaxico Burress made Al Harris look like his personal hand puppet, Tom Coughlin was typical full bore jackassery, and Brett Favre caught a late case of the crazies when his passes suddenly began to behave as if they were punts.

More than the Giants, the Super Bowl, or the Fox network, the weather was the winner last weekend. It showed that it will always be the topic of discussion in ways beyond the banality of, “Some weather we’re having, huh?” Yep, it got cold and none of that silliness about “Global Warming” reared its un-ironic head as the great misnomer of the past decade.

You know, global warming… kind of like jumbo shrimp.