Early-season scheduling unrealistic


Patrick Newell

Wednesday, April 2, I ran into Unadilla Valley head varsity baseball coach Matt Osborne around 6 p.m., who, like me, was eating dinner with his family at the Pizza Hut in Norwich. That statement alone should tell you something.
Osborne, again like me, was enjoying a relaxing evening with his family. Normally, I would be moving dinner along quickly with the purpose of reaching The Evening Sun office to take incoming calls from coaches. Or, I would be returning from an out-of-town game. Osborne, as well, would typically be finishing up a baseball game or finishing up an after-school practice. Why were the two of us so blithely going about our business? Cancellations and more cancellations.
Osborne had games on Monday (at Harpursville), and Tuesday (at Bainbridge-Guilford) slated, and both were postponed. Regardless if either or both games were played on UV’s home diamond, postponement was inevitable. On this April 2nd day, a day available to make up the postponements, field conditions remained across the majority of the area, unplayable.
Not having an exact count handy, I will conservatively estimate the area-wide baseball and softball cancellations due to poor weather at around a dozen and a half. These are all games that will eventually need to be played, and according to empirical evidence and my 13-year track record covering sports, the games left outstanding on each respective team’s docket will appear on open dates in the schedule. As cancellations pile up – and they will most assuredly accrue voluminously – the open dates become fewer and fewer, and legitimate practice sessions will linger as a long-ago memory from the early weeks of March.
My point here: Scheduling baseball and softball games in Central New York this time of year is wishful thinking at best, and unrealistic. I have pushed the idea yearly to move the start of the season back 10 days to two weeks. Cancellations are still inevitable due the fickle nature of spring weather, but the imminent postponements due to cold weather and horrid field conditions may be avoided.
I also like the idea of playing twinbills on Saturday, or at the least playing the make-up contests on the first day of the weekend. Why not? Be it a home game, a road game or a rescheduled game, regular Saturday contests will cover around one-third the entire schedule. Of course, Saturday is not exempt from rain-outs as well.
The end result of the current state of local scheduling is a stack of bunched games over a two- or three-week period. I have written up half a team’s schedule over a seven-week season in 10 days – nine games in 10 days!
Remember, we are not talking about Major League pitching staffs that carry 10 or 11 world-class arms. In most cases, these local clubs have one or maybe two quality arms, and perhaps a couple other guys that can give a couple quality innings. It is watered-down baseball where scores in the double digits become commonplace.
I’m all for offense, but Abner Doubleday did not intend baseball games to end in 22-19 counts with double-digit base on balls and double-digit errors.
To paraphrase a Ben Franklin quote: “Insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result.” It is time the brain trusts of high school sports look at the inequities in the scheduling and find a better way.