Cosmos defeat Cuba in super-soaker friendly

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Umbrellas dotted the parameter of a soggy, worn-down pitch as the Cuban National team hosted the New York Cosmos for a friendly soccer football match in a persistent rain Tuesday in Havana.

The Cosmos, competitors in the second-tier North America Soccer League, became the first America sports team in 16 years to play in Cuba. The Cosmos won 4-1 over the Cuban team, whose members immediately went back to practicing baseball.

Leading up to the match, the Economic Times said “the fixture reflects the rapidly thawing ties between the United States and Cuba following moves to normalize relations between the former Cold War foes after a bitter five-decade schism.”

Despite the somewhat historic significance of the game, I admit I didn’t watch much. But, let’s hope this is the beginning of beautiful friendship, sporting and otherwise, between the United States and the Communist-governed nation. We’re probably going to see more of these events in the near future. Reports say the Baltimore Orioles will play an exhibition game in Cuba this year, but no date has been set. The Orioles played there in 1999.

As for Tuesday’s football match, many folks on Twitter had plenty to say about the game.

Drizzles
Wind knocked over a metal panel at Roland Garros Tuesday, injurying three people during the match between Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Kei Nishikori. …Candlestick Park is almost gone. … Construction on the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium is progressing toward completion in time for the 2016 U.S. Open. … More college rain delay antics. … High school, too.

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Breaking: Sox and Twins rained out; Nats and Jays, too

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I don’t regularly write breaking news items on The Rainout Blog – because, this time of year, who could keep up, right? – but…

Tonight’s game between the Boston Red Sox and first-place Minnesota Twins – yeah, first place Twins – has been postponed because of “wet grounds and a forecast of moderate to heavy rain showers during the afternoon and evening hours,” the Red Sox website notes. The game has been rescheduled for 1:35 p.m. Wednesday at Fenway Park as part of a day-night doubleheader.

UPDATE: Tonight’s Nationals game with the Blue Jays in Washington, D.C. has been postponed because of rain. The game has been rescheduled for 1:05 p.m. Tuesday as part of a day-night doubleheader.

Rain, set, match

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A week of precipitation-free play gave way to a bit of rain Sunday at the French Open in Paris. Rain suspended play for 2 hours and 40 minutes, which led to a fun scene at the Roland Garros.

I know many people – maybe most people – aren’t fans of the wave, but how can you not like a wave of umbrellas? And for those people who disapprove of the wave, I think they are the same crowd who are against children, puppies and chocolate.

Just speculation on my part. Rain pushed back play on Sunday, and later darkness forced suspension of the match between Roger Federer and Gael Monfils. Two women’s matches scheduled for Sunday, including Maria Sharapova and Lucie Safarova, were postponed until Monday. Ana Ivanovic and Elina Svitolina –sorry Alize Cornet — were winners of rain-delayed matches.

 

Drizzles
The Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox played under a closed roof Saturday, but water seeped through the Minute Maid Park windows from a storm during the game, causing minor flooding in parts of the ballpark. Check out the photos. With rain pounding outside, the Astros kept the park open for fans to stay as long as necessary. Nice move, ‘Stros!

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.

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.