King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Snow sends the Cleveland Indians to seek shelter in Milwaukee. There's a lesson there. Plus: Really bad baseball art. And: NHL playoffs.


Salon Staff
April 10, 2007 8:00PM (UTC)

The Cleveland Indians are going to do something Tuesday night they've hardly done at all lately. They're going to play baseball. They're going to play the Los Angeles Angels, and they're going to do it in Milwaukee. Call them the Cleveland Indians of Milwaukee. Ha! I'm the only one who's thought of that joke.

The series was supposed to be played in Cleveland, but it has been snowing there for a while, as you may have heard, especially if you live in Cleveland and have windows.

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The Indians lost a four-game home series to the Mariners over the weekend and Monday, and what I mean by that is the games were postponed because of the snow. That's an even more rare event than losing a four-game home series to the Mariners, a trick last pulled by the Angels in July 2005.

A lot of fans and talk-radio types have been wondering why Major League Baseball schedules so many games in early April in cold-weather cities with open-air stadiums. MLB does a lot of dumb stuff, but it's kind of silly to think the brass in New York will read some online message boards, slap themselves on the foreheads and say, "Schedule April games in warm-weather cities and domes! Why didn't we think of that?"

It's not so easy. Eight of the 16 National League cities qualify as being reasonably certain that early-April games won't get rained, snowed or frozen out, but only five of the 14 American League cities do.

And that's before considering various teams' requests. Cincinnati always wants to open at home, for instance, a long-standing tradition. One of the teams in both Chicago and New York has to open at home, because they don't like to be at home at the same time, which means they can't be on the road at the same time.

Cold-weather teams don't want to be forced to open the season on a two-week road trip every year while they wait out potentially bad -- but sometimes beautiful -- weather back home. Warm-weather teams don't want to load their home schedule with April games because attendance improves in the summer, and they don't want to be loaded up with road games during the stretch drive.

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Nobody's willing to shorten the season by removing games or shorten the calendar by scheduling more double-headers. Too much lost revenue.

So what are we left with? We're left with making the best of a bad situation, and the good folks of Milwaukee getting to see some American League ball again for $10. That's the price you pay -- moving the game, not $10, which is the price of field-level seats during the series -- for playing an outdoor game in outdoor stadiums, which is a good thing.

Once in a long while, nature flicks its fingers at your little plans and says, "Sorry. Try Milwaukee."

This weekend was the Mariners' only scheduled trip to Cleveland this season, so the games are difficult to make up. It would be nice if the schedule were heavy on intradivisional games early in the season, so there'd be more chances to make up any lost games. There's a certain type of brain that's good at figuring out complex puzzles like a baseball schedule. Mine isn't one of those, so I don't know how easy that would be to accomplish. My guess: Not easy.

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I'll bet there are people reading this who are wired that way, and I'll meet you in the letters thread. In the meantime, I think those are words to live by, words to stay humble by, words we would all do well to remember every once in a while as we make our plans: "Sorry. Try Milwaukee."

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I may not know art, but that's a butt-ugly statue [PERMALINK]

I love public art controversies. It never fails to amuse me when the art types get into a big argument with the vast majority of a town, who of course are the very definition of "the mainstream" that art is supposed to challenge, over some public sculpture or something.

The two best ones I've followed were both in San Francisco. One was over a proposed sign in South of Market, before the neighborhood had completed the transition from borderline skid row to teeming commercial district. The sign, by artist Renée Petropoulos, would have arched over Howard Street. It read, "This is a nice neighborhood." The other involved a sculpture of a giant paper sack.

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Neither was approved. The heathens won!

They've won again in Portland, Maine, where a hilarious controversy accompanied a proposed statue outside the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs stadium. The statue depicts a family of four attending a baseball game. The hilarious part of the controversy is the statue itself, which is funnier than Spinal Tap's Stonehenge. It's that bad.

If this weren't real life but a comedy about a minor league baseball team, the unveiling of the statue would be a key punch line, with the team owner -- Ted Knight -- blanching when he saw what would pollute the outside of his stadium for years to come.

The statue, though a gift from the team's owner, who commissioned it, had to be approved by the city's public art committee, which wasn't excited about it and turned it down. The City Council stepped in and approved the statue.

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The Boston Globe coverage of the statue's unveiling Monday focused on the committee's objections on diversity grounds, with committee members declaring that Portland already has too many statues of "white, Anglo-Saxon people" and wasn't enthused about having more art featuring "white folks on pedestals."

Posters on the Baseball Primer Newsblog who say they live in Portland say the commission's objections were more wide ranging than the Globe's coverage suggests, pointing out that the Sea Dogs logo appears, making it as much an advertisement for the team as public art. The commission also had a problem with the placement of the statue.

Most important, and this is something I think we can all get behind, even the elite artist types who don't think the great unwashed have any taste at all: It is one hellaciously bad statue! Hilariously bad.

Created by artist Rhoda Sherbell, who has works on display at the Hall of Fame, it's a realist depiction of a man, a woman, a boy with a glove and ball and a toddler girl in the arms of the woman, who also holds a teddy bear. Here's a picture.

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So it looks like Dad is trying to scalp his tickets and Junior is arguing with him, trying to persuade him to change his mind. I'm guessing Junior mouthed off one too many times. Mom, dressed in an '80s shift that looks like it came from the free box and looking heat exhausted, annoyed and put upon, patiently waits out the battle while Sissy struggles in her arms.

It looks like the national memorial for the Unknown Unhappy Family.

And it'll greet you at every Sea Dogs game you attend from now on, as Sis squalls and Junior whines because you refused to turn around and drive the 20 minutes back home because he forgot his iPod.

As you and your soon-to-be-estranged spouse do a slow burn, each blaming the other for the dysfunction, one of you dreading the next three hours of trying to control the kids while everybody gets sunburned, the other wondering why this family can't just enjoy one stupid simple freakin' baseball game once in a while without World War stinkin' Three breaking out, you'll come across the statue and there will be a spark of recognition.

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You'll see yourself, you'll see your world, right there in bronze. And isn't that what public art is supposed to be all about?

I don't know either. All I know is what I like, and I like public art controversies.

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Hockey season starting! [PERMALINK]

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The NHL preseason is over and the playoffs begin Wednesday night. Here's a preview: Buffalo had a nice year.

And watch out for Ottawa. The Senators are always tough in the playoffs. Little humor there.

Hey, the NHL dares us to pay attention, and I haven't taken the dare very often this year. But for all its problems, the NHL does put on a pretty entertaining playoff season. It starts right in, too. None of this meaningless first-round stuff, like in the NBA. Eight seeds beat 1-seeds sometimes.

Here's the plan: I won't pretend I'm an expert on the 2006-07 NHL season, and we'll just watch the playoffs together like regular people. Don't like that plan?

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Sorry. Try Milwaukee.

Previous column: Radio vs. blogs, Round 2

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