Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody, including Major League Baseball, should try doing anything about it.
And no, that's not just because yesterday's deluge gave us a welcome little break from the Phillies' tribulations.
The unsprung spring has gotten people talking about ways baseball can adjust its scheduling to avoid frigid games, snow-outs and the other miseries that have befallen the 2007 season so far. The postponement of games in five cities, literally dampening MLB's planned celebration of Jackie Robinson, will no doubt generate more of such talk.
Truth is, there is one thing commissioner Bud Selig should do: nothing. Happily, nothing is what Selig is best qualified to do.
It is unfortunate that baseball teams spend six weeks under the sun in Florida and Arizona to prepare for a month of games on cold, damp nights. It is no fun for the players and less fun for fans who huddle in winter coats when they come to the ballpark. Worse yet, the cold affects the quality of the performances.
"It's hard for hitters to get loose," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said the other day. "It's hard to be free-swinging when you have a lot of extra clothes on."
Pitchers have a tougher time gripping the ball. It hurts hitters when the ball strikes the bat close to their hands on cold nights. Muscles are more likely to pull and ligaments are more likely to strain in cold. It's true that the game we've been watching since opening day bears little resemblance to the game we'll be watching in July and August.
But part of the charm of baseball is the length of the season, the way it stretches from the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training in mid-February until the last out of the World Series is recorded at the end of October. A baseball season covers three of the four seasons of the year.
If the most important games of the year, the postseason contests, are going to be played on cold, damp nights in October, there's no reason to mess with the schedule to avoid the first month under those conditions.
The proposed solutions would be worse for baseball than the problem.
MLB could conceivably schedule the first few weeks' worth of games for cities in Florida and Texas, California and other warmer places. That doesn't seem like a big deal at first glance. Let the Marlins and Padres and Angels and Braves start the season with three-week homestands and then move north as temperatures rise.
Under a plan like that, the Phillies might have opened in Atlanta, moved on to Florida and Houston and then maybe a West Coast swing. What the players would give up in home-field advantage - such as it is in Philadelphia - they would gain in decent playing conditions.
Until you consider what it would be like for the Phillies to open at home on May 1 already 10 games out of first place.
Until you consider that the warm-weather teams would then have to play a disproportionate number of road games later in the season, as pennant races heat up.
Until you note that the warm-weather teams would be playing a lot of home dates before schools let out and families with younger children are more inclined to go to the park.
Another possibility: Just start the season at the spring-training sites. Play a couple of weeks that count in the same weather the players have been working in for six weeks. That idea is impractical because of the size of the ballparks in Florida and Arizona, but it would be more fair than the other plan.
The only really workable solution is to put up with the cold and the rain, even if it means a snowed-out series in Cleveland and Indians games moved to Milwaukee's indoor park.
Babe Ruth and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron played on cold spring nights. Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols and David Ortiz can deal with it.
Manuel acknowledged that he thought the cold was holding his hitters back, but he was quick to point out that the Houston Astros were playing in the same weather.
"They train in Kissimmee [Fla.]," Manuel said. "Both teams have to play in this. We're on even ground. I think everybody would rather play baseball in nicer weather, but that just happens to be part of the season."
The Phillies got off to an ice-cold start again this season. The weather, though, had little to do with it. That's a shame, because the weather is almost certain to get better.