Month: May 2015

Swinging in the rain

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Play is again underway in the second round of the AT&T Byron Nelson in Irvin, Texas after a three-hour delay prompted by 4 and a half inches of rain that fell overnight on an already “soft and saturated golf course” at the TPC Four Seasons. The first tee time was set for 7 a.m. – that’s Central time – but was pushed back to 10 a.m. to give grounds crews time to prepare the course for play.

The par-4, 14th hole, listed on the scorecard at 406 yards, has been reduced to 100 yards on round two because of water on the fairway… and guess what just happened:

While we’re on the subject of golf, let’s make the sport the focus of today’s Drizzles:

Four sinkholes formed at the Top of the Rock Golf Course in Branson, Missouri. (I went to Branson once in the early 2000s. I was there in March, and everything was closed except an Olive Garden and a few gas stations. I was told all the entertainment venues re-opened in April. So, close! Is this still the case in Branson?). …Video: Golf fans smile off rain at first day of Irish Open (Check our Rory’s BMW). … I missed this from Golf Digest back in September: Playing in the rain stinks. Here are seven reasons why. … I’m not going back through The Rainout Blog archives, but I’m guessing I’ve used the “Swinging in the rain” headline before.

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For breakfast: cereal and clay

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Associated Press
Associated Press

I woke up this morning with Maria Sharapova and Vitalia Diatchenko.

They, of course, were on TV, all sweaty and bouncing around the clay surface of Roland Garros. I, in shorts, T-shirt and slippers; settled on the man cave couch with a bowl of cereal.

It looked like a beautiful day in Paris, and the commentators – I didn’t catch their names – said so, speaking of a mild and cooler-than-usual day four at the French Open. Those comments led to me to digging online for weather information regarding the second tennis major of the season, and I found this article from Accuweather.com.

The story has some interesting nuggets from retired player and Tennis Channel commentator Justin Gimelstob about the role of weather on the Roland Garros clay.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

“As we have seen in past years, the warmer conditions, lighter air, creates a dynamic where the ball moves through the air quicker and is more explosive bouncing off the surface,” Gimelstob said. “The warmer, drier conditions also affects the topsoil of the court surface.”

These conditions are extremely favorable to nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who relies on extreme racket head speed and excessive topspin, Gimelstob said.

Warm and dry weather allows the clay to become thinner, which makes it hard for players to get traction and keep their footing on the course. Damp and heavy conditions allow the clay to become thicker which can slow the ball down upon contacting the court surface as it picks up moisture, according to Gimelstob.

Aggressive players, such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, would benefit from the lighter conditions, while heavier conditions favor players who can generate their own pace and produce a flatter, linear trajectory on their shots. Those players include Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, Gimelstob said.

Fifteen yards

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NFLKickerSnowYep, fifteen yards.

That’s how far back the NFL last week agreed to move extra-point kicks, resulting in what will be 33-yard point-after-touchdowns beginning with the 2015 season.

The league hopes this extra distance for extra points makes the ho-hum play a little more exciting, keeping your eyes glued to the TV and delaying your trip to the ‘fridge and/or the bathroom just a few more seconds.
NFL kickers are deadly accurate, and an extra 15 yards shouldn’t make a difference, right?

Right.

Unless until you consider games in November, December and January for cold weather teams like the Giants, Jets, Packers, Bills, Bears and Steelers. And don’t forget the Vikings, who have one more season of outdoor home games before moving into a new dome.

Giants’ kicker Josh Brown talked last week about the rule change and potential problems caused by bad weather, particularly wind.

I asked Brown through Twitter if wind, rain or snow provided the most challenge for NFL kickers. He replied:

Brown responded quickly, which gave me the confidence to poll a few other NFL kickers through Twitter. This will be great, I thought, to get thought from the pros about kicking extra points from an increase distance in bad weather conditions.

As Phil Collins once sang, “No reply at all.”

But Alex Marvez at FOX Sports – he somehow is better connected than The Rainout Blog – spoke Brown and Vikings kicker Blair Walsh, getting their perspectives on kicking, in general and longer PATs, in adverse weather conditions. Below are quotes from the kickers about various conditions.

Brown on kicking in rain and wind:

“Rain makes the ball heavier. If you hit the ball well, it flies perfectly straight. Wind causes the biggest amount of changes.”

Walsh on kicking in frigid temperatures:

“If the ball is overly cold or overly inflated it does not go as far in cold weather. It’s sort of a running joke that once you hit below about 32 degrees as a kicker expect to hit it five or six yards less on anything whether it’s a kickoff or deep field goal.

“If you have two specialists who are used to kicking outside in those conditions, those late-game, 33-yard extra points to tie (the score) at 21 are going to be a positive for us and a disadvantage for a team like Atlanta or Indianapolis who play in a dome.”

Rain king for the day

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Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera smacked the 400th home run of his career Saturday through pouring rain in St. Louis. Cabrera deposited a full-count fastball from Cardinals lefty Tyler Lyons an estimated 428 feet away in the first inning.

Miggy is all smiles as he rounds the bases.

See the home run here

Shortly after Cabrera’s home run, the game was suspended an hour and 20 minutes for rain. The Tigers went on to win 4-3 in 10 innings.

American Pharaoh is one tough mudder

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The Kentucky Derby winner slogged through the mud today to take the Preakness Stakes and the second leg of the Triple Crown races.

Check out some of the best tweets from Pimilico.

The weather ‘what-ifs’ for today’s Preakness Stakes

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HorseRacingMud02

If a hard thunderstorm hits Baltimore today an hour or two before post time at the 2015 Preakness Stakes, it could create a wet, sloppy mess on the Pimilco Race Course.

If that’s the case, I pity the fool who doesn’t take Mr. Z.

Yep, he’s a longshot, but one horse racing expert I spoke with today is saying there’s a chance.

“Mr. Z, who is 30-1 today, has had a good race in the mud. He could jump out there, get in the lead and not look back,” said Jerry “T,” the host of “Talking Horses with Jerry ‘T’ on 640 AM WXSM in east Tennessee.

A quick check of the forecast shows a 100 percent chance of thunderstorms before the race.

A combination of having good bloodlines for racing in sloppy conditions and his post position could make Mr. Z a surprise winner today.

“Because of the post position – he’s No. 3 – he could jump out to the lead if it got real muddy,” Jerry “T” explained. “Even though American Pharaoh has a good mud race, he’s in the No. 1 hole, and it is never good to come out of the No. 1 hole. So, there’s a little disadvantage there, rain or shine.”

That “good mud race” for American Pharaoh Jerry “T” referred to was a Rebel Stakes win in muddy conditions at Oaklawn Park in March. “It was very sloppy that day. He went to the front and won by six lengths,” Jerry “T” said. “He ran a great race.”

(You watch the race here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjj6KiFMXxQ)

“T” also likes American Pharaoh, the Kentucky Derby winner and favorite in any track condition, today if there’s a muddy track, or to use horse racing vernacular, an off-track.

“When you have an off-track, the advantage always goes to the speed horses. Because, if you’re out front and it’s muddy, you’re throwing mud back on the other horses” Jerry “T” said. “When they start getting muddy, they could pick up three or four or five pounds of mud. And, the frontrunner will be completely clean. The other guys behind him will look like they’ve been thrown in a mud puddle.”

Examining the field, “T” said all of the eight horses racing today have bloodlines that can handle an off-track, with one exception.

“The only one in the race who might not like the mud is the No. 8 horse Firing Line,” Jerry “T” said. “He doesn’t really have a pedigree for racing in the mud. You might can say if it gets really muddy, he might not like the mud.”

Can’t always dodge the rain

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We don’t get many rain delays at Dodgers and Padres games, particularly on the same night. But when we do, we tend to go a little gaga.

That’s OK. Baseball-interrupting rain showers in those towns happen about as often you not findings an eggshell in your grandma’s potato salad. (Maybe I’m revealing too much family history.)

Anyway, let’s take a look at the goings-on from Dodger Stadium and Petco Park last night.

Let’s begin with this guy, the dancing Padre:

And here’s video of the rain happenings at Dodger Stadium. Bonus: You get to hear Vin Scully, who begins to talk about how “we used to go through this so much” in Brooklyn. The video cuts off there, and I’m not sure if there was more to the story from Vin. If so, I’d love to grab a drink and listen.


Rain Drops

A mayor of a tiny Texas town slammed by a tornado is getting some much-deserved flak for skipping out on community relief efforts. Where was he? Playing golf, of course. … In a salute to the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Royals are wearing throwback uniforms Sunday, and so are the grounds crew. You know, the guys who roll out the tarp during a rain delay. Yeah, that’s how this relates to The Rainout Blog. … This seems a little fishy, but a cool, yet seemingly unrealistic, idea. … Interesting note: Dodger Stadium has experienced only 17 rainouts since the ballpark opened in 1962.