Raising the Roof, or Sliding it Into Place?

Wow. What a wacky first week of the Major League Baseball season. First, there are the usually successful teams that are starting out with losing records: Yankees, White Sox, Phillies,and Cardinals. I know it's still early, but these teams normally don't post sub-500 records at any time during the year. The Giants, with all the hype about Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron's home run record, have won only one game so far.

Next, there are the players who aren't normally at the top of the stats list getting off to a fast start. Matt Kemp of the Dodgers hit just .253 last season in 52 games; he's starting out a whopping .462 clip. Mike Jacobs of Florida is beginning the season with a .435 average after last year's .262. That's just to mention a couple.

But the one thing that has made the start to this season so strange has been the weather, especially the snow. The series in Cleveland between the Indians and Mariners is the first one I can remember to be completely snowed out. Sure, there have been series that were either entirely rained out or postponed due to other weather conditions like hurricanes.

Not only has the weather been so bad in Cleveland that it wiped out the series with Seattle, but it also has forced the upcoming series with the Angels to relocate to Milwaukee. I can remember a couple instances when games had to be moved due to problems with a stadium, like when the roof in the old Kingdome lost a couple tiles in 1994. That forced the M's to play 20-straight road games. Montreal had the same type situation a couple years earlier when a beam fell at old Olympic Stadium, forcing the Expos on the road for 26 games.

Obviously, a spring snow storm isn't going to keep the Indians, or any other team for that matter, on the road for three or four weeks. But it does make me wonder how many so-called cold weather teams will start pushing for retractable-roof stadiums in the near future. Seattle has one, Milwaukee has one, Toronto has one, and other cities, like Minneapolis, are beginning to look into the idea.

But do retractable-roof stadiums make sense everywhere? Evidently so, with the design being incorporated into ballparks in Houston and Phoenix, not typically known for having cold weather. With the opposite being true, the roofs are included mainly to be used in the event of inclement weather (thunderstorms are prevalent in those areas) and to provide containment for air conditioning on those days of intense heat.

Another question that comes to mind, especially with the renewed focus on global warming and the disrupt in weather patterns it's allegedly causing, is the retractable-roof stadium the wave of the future and are any cities going to be without them in the next 20 or 30 years? My guess is probably. It would be really strange to see Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park or Dodger Stadium with a roof, but in order to avoid rain cancellations, shifting series because of unplayable fields, and other situations that cause baseball games to be postponed, Major League Baseball might be better off if it came just short of mandating retractable-roof stadiums.

Of course, there is no guarantee that every game will be able to be played, since other conditions could postpone or cancel games — the aforementioned hurricane, tornadoes, and structural failure are probably the most likely. But, as much as I hate sports created for the great outdoors being played indoors, these seem a much better alternative to the antiquated and static domed stadiums. As long as they keep the roof open more than closed, I guess I'm okay with that, although baseball in the snow is quite entertaining.

One final note: is anyone in Milwaukee going to show up for the Indians/Angels series?

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