Go Away, Rain!
11:18 AM EDT on August 12, 2021
Rain: It kind of sucks! I mean, sometimes it's nice when you're in a gloomy mood and you want to stare out the window as buckets of water crash against your home and lightning flashes in the distance and your cat hangs close to you because she's scared of thunder, or because agriculture needs it for civilization to survive or whatever. But particularly in an era where the safest place to be is outside—and especially if you're going to a baseball game—rain is the kind of thing that can ruin your whole day. And in my opinion, there was far too much rain last night.
In New York, as the Mets tried to play the Nationals, the teams had their game pushed back for the second straight day. After finishing up their suspended contest from Tuesday in the early evening on Wednesday, New York storms prevented anyone from throwing even a single pitch in the second half of the doubleheader, so they'll try again to play two today.
Philadelphia's been struggling to keep the field dry, too. On Tuesday, a great duel between Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola was interrupted in the fourth inning by a 104-minute rain delay, and then again on Wednesday, an 8-2 Dodgers win was stopped for about an hour by more precipitation. Baltimore caught all the east coast rain as well, as the start of the Orioles-Tigers game on Tuesday was delayed for nearly two hours because of rain, and on Wednesday, the teams couldn't begin for about 70 minutes. The Midwest didn't escape either, as Oakland-Cleveland got delayed for 50 minutes before the A's won 6-3.
It was a rough night all around for everyone except for the guys who make video packages of important moments in team history—the Detroit RSN aired a nice one of Armando Galarraga's thwarted perfect game while they waited it out. And while I realize that I quite literally become Young Woman Yells At Cloud in doing so, I just have to say that I am frickin' pissed at all these damn nimbostrati. Don't they know that it's August? That there aren't a whole lot of other live sports options right now besides ultimate frisbee on FS2? The absolute nerve of this water cycle is sickening.
There are obviously much more serious consequences to all this rain than bored fans at a ballpark or poor old me without anything to watch on television. In southeast Michigan, where the storms were furious enough to wake me up around 2 a.m. or so, hundreds of thousands lost power and several freeways flooded because of the out-of-control rain, with more predicted to come on Thursday. But baseball works as an effective lens to contextualize all this weather because of how easy it is to get a glimpse of the situation all around the country. When I check the weather report, there's no reason for me to look at any other area besides where I'm currently standing. But when I check the baseball scores at night and see that a bunch of games are struggling to get completed, the scope of the problem is immediately evident, and I hear my new best friend Climate Anxiety say hello.
The rain isn't going away any time soon. While our greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to more serious droughts in the western and southwestern United States, the Midwest and Northeast have had to deal more and more with heavy precipitation. According to the EPA, nine of the top 10 years for extreme precipitation events between 1910 and 2020 in the contiguous U.S. have occurred since 1996. That's because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which in turn leads to significantly more intense damage when all that moisture gets released.
I saw plenty of semi-serious calls last night for roofs to be placed onto the ballparks that are suffering the most from the rain, but that, of course, would only be a band-aid. As the IPCC reminded us earlier this week, governments have a very limited window to act drastically and prevent the worst possible outcomes of global warming. While all people and by extension all sports will have to reckon with this reality sooner rather than later, it's MLB, more than any other league, that could find itself completely disrupted by these outcomes. There's a version of a future where baseball outdoors in the summer is basically unworkable, if not because of the rain then because of the heat or the unsafe air quality. This week is but a small preview of what we can and must avoid.