Cool nights, hot Cubs

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Chicago Tribune

At 15-5, the Chicago Cubs are off to a hot start this season. Not even cold weather has been able to slow them down.

Tuesday night, the Cubbies hosted the Milwaukee Brewers for the first of three games at Wrigley Field, and the temperature at game time dipped to 40 degrees. And with a 16 mph wind shooting out of left center field, it felt like 34 degrees to those sitting in the friendly confines.

The NL Central-leading Cubs managed only two hits in the first 5 1/3 innings against Brewers’ righty Jimmy Nelson, who tossed 109 pitches in the contest.

In the sixth, however, the Cubs’ bats warmed up. Addison Russell slugged a two-out, two-run triple to break a 1-1 tie. An inning later, Anthony Rizzo doubled in a run to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Chicago gave up two runs to the Brewers in the eighth, but managed to hang on for a 4-3 victory.

The win improved the Cubs to 4-0 this season in games that had a first-pitch temperature at 48 degrees or below. Chicago has outscored their opponents 26-9 in those four games, all of which were played at Wrigley. Three of the four games, as noted below, were tangles with the Cincinnati Reds.

Date, Opponent, Temperature, Result
April 26, Brewers, 40 degrees, Cubs 4-3
April 14, Reds, 45 degrees, Cubs 8-1
April 13, Reds, 48 degrees, Cubs 9-2
April 11, Reds, 48 degrees, Cubs 5-3

The Brewers, who play their home games in cozy Miller Park where’s there’s a retractable roof, managed only four hits Tuesday night.

“It was a tough day to hit, wind blowing and really cold,” said Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks, who gave up only a run on two hits in five innings, but did not factor into the decision.

BrewersColdnight InWrigley4262016

The two teams meet again Wednesday night for game two of the three-game series. Temperatures will be warmer, but a moderate wind will be blowing in from center field. In case you’re wondering, the Cubs are 4-2 with the wind blowing in a Wrigley this season.

Also, there’s a good chance rain could be persistent throughout the night, possibly causing delays.

By the way, Jake Arrieta is scheduled to pitch tonight for the Cubs. Perhaps the Brewers will be praying for rain.


Cold, and some warm, numbers about the NFL

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PatriotsCold01Once again, the New England Patriots are in the news – sort of – for an air-related topic.

No, Tom Brady and the Patriots have not been deflating footballs, not that I’m generally aware of anyway. This time, the air we’re reference involves wind, specifically at Pats’ football games. has released its study of NFL weather since 1960 and through the 2013 season. The study finds the average wind speed for NFL games in that time period to be 10.27 mph. For the Patriots, wind has soared to an average of 13.05 for games, says.

Other teams blowing past the league average are the Giants (12.93), Jets (12.9), Cowboys (11.79), Lions (11.58), Bills (11.57), Chiefs (11.48), Vikings (11.18), Browns (11.08) and Bears (11.06).

You may have noticed two of those teams – the Lions and Vikings – have played many of their home games in domes over the past several years. Interesting.

The study also ranks the top 10 windiest NFL stadiums since 1960. Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Jets, took the top spot with an average in-game wind speed at 13.9 mph. The Jets moved out of Shea after the 1983 season.

Guess which stadium comes in at No. 2. Yankee Stadium, of course. It’s been a long time since the Giants played there –1973, to be exact – but that doesn’t stop the House that Ruth Built from ranking high on this list.

The windiest active stadiums according to the study’s findings are… well, there are only two: Soldier Field (No. 6) with 11.98 and Arrowhead Stadium (No. 10) with 11.54 mph.

The others include Giants Stadium – that makes sense – Milwaukee County Stadium – Hmmm – Texas Stadium, the Cotton Bowl and Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Also worthy of note from the study, I guess, is a ranking of teams’ winning percentages when temperatures dip below freezing. The Packers ranked the highest with 20.29 percent, the Broncos came in a distant second with 15.8 percent and the Steelers rounded out the top three at 14.54. The Browns were ninth with 10.91 and the Patriots came in 10th with 10.56 percent, the study claims. Remember, the study goes back 55 years. The Browns, before my time and maybe yours, were once a pretty good football team.

An interesting number to come out of the study is the average temperature of NFL games since 1960: 56.8 degrees. says the average game day temperature has increased by 6.99 degrees since 1960.

The Packers, the study says, have the second lowest home game average temperature since ’60. The Vikings rank first at 42.14 degrees despite playing home games indoors from 1982 to 2013. I’m guessing the study did not factor into its averages those indoor home games for the Vikes in which the thermostat was set at a comfy 70 degrees.

Oh, by the way, the Detroit Lions ranked third.

The study also gives rankings to those teams with the highest average temperatures per game. It’s no surprise to find Miami, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Jacksonville and San Diego making up the top five.

Going back out into the cold, the study also ranks the top 10 coldest games since 1960. The NFC title game between the Cowboys and Packers at Lambeau Field – the legendary Ice Bowl game of 1967 – tops the list at -13 degree Fahrenheit. The Packers have five games in the top 10. collected its data, it says, from numerous sources, including It’s fun to scroll through even though there are a few cringe-worthy references, such as the listing of the “San Francisco Raiders” in one category and mentions of the St. Louis Cardinals – no reference to the move to Arizona – and the “Green Bar Packers” in the Most Turnovers Below Freezing category. Some of the venues included in the windiest stadium rankings seem a little awkward, too.

Against the wind

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The wind at Citi Field Friday night did more than make women swoon from the sight of Noah Syndergaard’s long blond locks blowing from underneath his blue Mets cap. (I read a lot about that on Twitter.)

Wind, on a single swing, may have preserved the game for the Mets, who held 5-3 lead over the Royals in the top of the sixth inning in Game 3 of the World Series.

Alex Rios stood at the plate with a 3-2 count and drove the 100th pitch of the night from Syndergaard down the left field line. They Royals had runners on first and second as the ball glided toward left field.

Wind pushed and pushed on the ball until gravity brought it down a few feet to the foul side of the white base line.

“You see the effect of the wind right there. That ball took off,” Fox analyst Harold Reynolds said. “That ball started to be fair, and I thought it was going to be an easy out for (Mets’ left fielder Michael) Conforto. It (the ball) just continued to run to the corner.”

Reynolds, being at the ballpark, had a better view than I did from my spot on the man cave sofa. However, it looked to me that if the ball had landed fair, Conforto, unless he made a Web Gems-worth diving catch, would not have caught up to the ball.

A fair ball would have meant at least one run for the Royals, and maybe two to tie.

How much would that have affected the game? It’s hard to say. And, of course, there were countless other moments in the game that could have been affected by the wind. But at the time, this play seemed like a potential turning point.

It doesn’t mean anything now. The Mets added four runs in the bottom half of the inning and went on to win 9-3, but it was a perfect example how wind – it was 14 mph with gusts up to 25 mph – can influence a baseball game by an inch here and an inch there.

‘When it rains at The Open, they just sit there and get wet’

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TigerWoodsBritishOpenAs far as weather is concerned, the 114th British Open promises to be the British Open of British Opens.
Got that?

The major begins Thursday in St. Andrews and, according to forecasts, wind and rain could play a major role, particularly on the last three days of the four-day event.

The British Open wouldn’t be complete with a bit of rain and swirling winds, right lad?

The Open posted on its Twitter page today a video featuring a handful of pro golfers talking about their experiences with fans in Scotland and the excitement spectators bring to The Open, even in the rain.

My favorite line: “It doesn’t matter if it rains. Anywhere else if it rains, everybody starts running for shelter. When it rains at The Open, they just sit there and get wet.”

Ramos goes all Bob Seger on a baseball

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Ramos-wind-06-06-15You know, he went against the wind.

Bad joke. Sorry!

In the bottom of the second inning against the Cubs Saturday, Washington catcher Wilson Ramos turned on a pitch and powered the ball deep into the Nationals Park left-center field seats against a stiff wind.

Winds at the ballpark were blowing around 16 mph at the time of Wilson’s blast.

See the video

Earlier in the game, Anthony Rendon also popped a long shot, but the wind held it in the park.

Bryce Harper hit his 19th home run of the season for Nationals.

But alas, the Curly Dubs lost 4-2 to the Cubbies.

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?


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.”