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Pastime Passed by Passing Showers

Due to the obscene amount of rainouts of Major League Baseball games on the East Coast this season, I decided to step away from my research for a couple of hours to look into this inconvenient topic over the last couple of years. This is probably a good time to work something like this into the mix since the tropics are quiet.

Baseball is a very peculiar sport in the sense that grown men have the ability to throw hard objects at one another with speeds exceeding 95 MPH for the purpose of injuring or intimidating an opponent, but they cannot play in certain intensities of rain. I am certainly not advocating that baseball be played in torrential downpours since serious injury would likely result, but it is ironic that Major League Baseball is the only major sport in America that will stop play due to rain.

There are two bodies that can postpone or delay a baseball game due to weather conditions, the home team and the umpires. The home team has the ability to postpone the game prior to the first pitch while the umpires have the ability to postpone the game prior to a regulation game being played (five innings) or to end the game and award the winning team the victory after five innings have been played. Most baseball games are postponed prior to the first pitch due to the amount of precipitation that already fell along with weather forecasts, but one or two games each season begin and must be delayed prior to five innings.

Major League Baseball box scores were only available since the 2002 season so this study takes into account the 10 386 regularly scheduled baseball (not including makeup games) games for the 2002-2005 seasons. Since 2002, Major League Baseball games were played in 25 outdoor facilities that could be impacted by rain; however, there were only 20 parks in which games were affected by rain (Table 1). Notice that most of the postponed games occurred in parks located in the Northeast with lesser amounts in the Midwest. Many cities that did not experience rainouts were in the West.

Table 1: Distribution of Rainouts in Major League Baseball by City and Month.

Figure 1 shows the distribution of postponed baseball games for the 2002-2005 seasons as a function of time in months. Notice that highest numbers of games were postponed in April while May, June, and September had nearly equal amounts of rainouts. The summer months of July and August had the least amount of rainouts while October had few rainouts because few baseball games are played during the playoffs. Note that September 2004 had the highest number of rainouts of any month due to the impact of Hurricanes Jeanne and Frances on South Florida and the Mid-Atlantic. It is interesting to note that the active 2005 Hurricane season had little affect on Major League Baseball.

Figure 1: Distribution of Postponed Major League Baseball Games 2002-2005.

Posted by Andy Hoell | Permalink