Skies as gray as a Charlie Chaplin flick. A nip in the air intense enough to cause a momentary sting. Cement awash with plenty of rain puddles.
Perfect baseball weather.
Well, on second thought, not perfect. For that, add blustering winds, turn down the temperature gauge and throw in a small dusting of snow. Combine those elements, and yes, what you'd have is the ideal backdrop to baseball's showcase event.
Which is why you can imagine the back flips being performed in the offices of 245 Park Avenue right now. The World Series will visit the Rocky Mountains (average first day of snowfall, Oct. 15) for the first time, and it also will make an appearance off the shores of Lake Erie (mean temperature in October: 52 degrees) or in the crisp air of New England (mean temp in October: 54 degrees). So blustering winds, frigid temps and a dusting of snow are entirely possible.
Heck, with any luck, perhaps we can see a Game 7 played in sleet.
OK, that's an extreme, but then again, extreme weather has become a regular part of the playoff experience in recent years, and it sure could use a signature moment. Perhaps then, common sense will return to baseball's leadership -- provided, of course, that baseball someday will hire a visionary who cares more about the quality of the sport than the quantity of revenue provided by the networks and advertisers.
Until then, mind-blowing moments such as the Colorado Rockies' run to their first Winter Classic will be mixed with body-numbing images such as the one seen at their Coors Field home in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Speaking of which, did somebody mention sleet?
"I'm surprised we played under those conditions," Arizona Diamondbacks' president Derrick Hall told the East Valley Tribune on the day after Arizona became the latest victim of the Colorado buzz-saw. "Both sides had to deal with it, (but) I don't know that we needed to."
Inasmuch as that game was played in 43-degree weather (with a wind chill near freezing) through a hard, cold rain, let's help Hall out with that last part. No, the two teams shouldn't have needed to. Not when his team's season was on the line, and not when, presented with the same conditions in April, the game surely would've been halted.
Unfortunately, playing in such conditions at such a vital time is what baseball and its esteemed wisdom has wrought. MLB, like its fellow major sports, has become so dependent upon TV money, the decision on how to proceed when faced with the kind of slop seen in Colorado during Game 3 is not entirely in its hands.
But the more egregious error is a fundamental one. Since 1960, baseball has expanded from 16 teams to 30 and from two playoff participants to eight. But at no point, apparently, has it dawned on any of the decision-makers that what worked nearly 50 years ago -- a start-to-finish slate that could wrap up in early October -- no longer works in 2007.
That baseball seems not to realize this speaks so much more powerfully about its ineptness in this area than any words could. Someone might want to mention that America's true national pastime -- the NFL --schedules its premier event for warm-weather cities even though it's a cold-weather sport.
Baseball, unfortunately, has taken the entirely opposite approach. Thus, pitchers and catchers still report for spring training right about Feb. 20 (as opposed to, say, Feb. 1). The regular season still starts during the first week in April (rather than, say, the third week of March). And the playoffs continue to matriculate closer and closer to the winter solstice (another couple expansions ought to do it).
It doesn't need to be this way. Most players (including pitchers) insist that spring training is already too long. Managers, to a man, will tell you that they'd rather take their chances with the weather in the first month of the season rather than the last one. And just about everyone except the bean counters would be willing to play a doubleheader or two per season if it meant more adequate weather in the season's biggest games.
As it is, we're left to discuss such elements as the frigid chill in Detroit a year ago, or the pouring rain that helped cause the highest scoring game in World Series history -- Toronto's 15-14 win over Philadelphia in Game 4 of 1993.
"Our preference," Hall said of his own team's NLCS Game 3 experience, "would've been to move it to a dry day."
Baseball in dry conditions. What a novel concept.
Contact Rick Hurd at firstname.lastname@example.org.