Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

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Weather could have major effect on Fall Classic

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Nolan Ryan kept tracking the storm, aware the radar showed green blobs moving closer and closer to Rangers Ballpark. Explaining the threat of rain, Big Tex sounded totally in his element. "There's a disturbance out in West Texas," the Rangers president pointed out before a recent playoff game. "I'm not a meteorologist, but they're talking about the south-to-north line." "So does it lose some of its energy?" he said. "I think there's going to be some heat build-up showers, popup showers." Playfully, someone asked Ryan whether he could do that well in front of a map. Kind of like a real-live weatherman. "You know, if this job doesn't work out," the CEO, president and part-owner of the Texas Rangers said, "maybe they could use somebody." With Texas and St. Louis starting up the World Series this week, Major League Baseball might take the help. The forecast for Game 1 Wednesday night at Busch Stadium was daunting: Temperatures dropping through the 40s, a decent chance of rain, a lot of wind. Play or Ppd? Talk about October pressure -- the barometric kind, that is. After a season that included more than 50 rainouts, MLB's highest total since 1997, bad weather intruded in the playoffs. A game at Yankee Stadium was stopped in the second inning and suspended until the following day. A game at Texas was postponed because rain was lingering -- too bad for the teams and fans, those showers never came. Getting it exactly right isn't easy, Paul Gross said. He's a meteorologist with WDIV-TV in Detroit and has been helping the Tigers with their forecasts since the days when Sparky Anderson was their manager. "There is a tremendous amount of weather information on the Internet these days. Everyone has access to it, everyone can try to be a weatherman," he said. "But the average person, without any formal training in meteorology, doesn't understand that things can change very dramatically." "We have a joke in this business: 'Don't try this at home,'" he said. No matter, check the stands at any ballpark when the skies turn dark. Fans whip out their cell phones, put the maps in motion and make their own predictions. Players, too, turn into amateur weathermen. Boston slugger David Ortiz has been known to dial up the radar and study the multicolored blobs and bands that show precipitation. In Michigan, Gross said, the breezes off the Great Lakes can cause sudden shifts. The challenge is trying to plot them, seeing if those oft-invoked "windows" will show up. During the 2006 World Series, Gross found himself in a room with MLB officials and managers Tony La Russa of the Cardinals and Jim Leyland of the Tigers. Rain was dotting the area and everyone wanted to know whether it would dampen Comerica Park. "People often ask about scattered showers, whether it will rain on them," he said. "I tell them it's like I'm holding a handful of coins in the living room. If I toss them in the air, I know that they'll definitely come down on the rug. I just can't be sure where." Keeping people safe at the stadium is the main goal, Gross said. Lightning can pose a particular danger -- "remember, you have electronics on the field for pregame festivities," Gross said. The Cardinals and Rangers, like many other teams, consult with local meteorologists for forecasts. MLB checks the computer, relying on WeatherBug.com. "It also looks at other services, too," said Katy Feeney, senior vice president in the commissioner's office. "They'll also talk to the ground crew, who'll look at their radar. But the meteorologist Major League Baseball uses is WeatherBug." When it comes to decide whether to postpone or suspend a postseason game, a lot of people are in the room. Club executives, umpires, television officials and MLB representatives can all express opinions -- ultimately, baseball makes the call. Texas starter C.J. Wilson was set to pitch at Busch Stadium for the first time in Game 1. "Well, Texas and St. Louis have similar summer climates. It's humid, it's hot," he said. "I haven't really pitched in cold weather too often, but you wear sleeves and put on a jacket in the dugout and that's pretty much all you can do." Chris Carpenter was ready to start the opener for the Cardinals. "You deal with weather like this in the beginning of the season. It's no different. Go out and pitch," he said. "I'm going to be nice and warm anyways because I'll be all warmed up doing my thing, and I'm not concerned about what the weather is doing, unless it's raining and we don't get to play. That's no fun. Hopefully, it doesn't do that."

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

CSN Chicago's Bulls analyst Kendill Gill played in The Big 3 in Chicago's UIC Pavilion on Sunday and gave CSN some inside access.

Gill was mic'd up in warm-ups and talked to CSN's Mark Schanowski after the game. Gill's Team Power picked up another win to improve to 3-1.

Watch the video above to see the behind the scenes footage and the interview with Schanowski.

With mysterious injury behind him, Kyle Hendricks has returned to the Cubs and brought jokes

With mysterious injury behind him, Kyle Hendricks has returned to the Cubs and brought jokes

Kyle Hendricks has returned at the turn of the tide for the Cubs and he brought his sense of humor.

Hendricks hasn't pitched since June 4 and is slated to return to the Cubs rotation Monday against the White Sox after missing the last seven weeks with inflammation in his pitching hand.

Basically, his middle finger hurt every time he threw certain pitches.

"That's probably the problem — flipping the bird to people," he joked. "Maybe it's too much driving in Chicago, I don't know."

Joe Maddon cracked up when he found out his stoic pitcher delivered a joke.

"He didn't say that. He did? That's very tongue-in-cheek, Dartmouth-in-cheek, right?" Maddon said. "He's like the most mild-mannered, wonderful fellow. It's just such an awkward injury to get and come back from.

"Right now, he's feeling great. [Cubs trainer PJ Mainville] feels really good about it, also. I think his velocity was up a bit also in the minor leagues in a couple starts. All that are good indicators. An unusual injury, but we're happy to have him back."

Kris Bryant injured his finger diving into third base Wednesday, but only missed one full game, using his freakish healing powers to do what Hendricks struggled to do in a month.

"100 percent [wish I could heal like Bryant]," Hendricks said with a smile. "I wish it wasn't the middle finger. If it was another finger, maybe it would've been easier. But a lot of things you wish, I guess, at the outset.

"But you just have to look at it — it was what it was and I'm done with it now. Now just go play."

The finger/hand injury is still largely a mystery to both Hendricks and the Cubs. They don't know how it popped up, beyond just excessive throwing (including pitching into November last season). 

He said he felt the issue pop up right before he went to the disabled list and it affected him every time he threw his curveball or sinker, because he used his middle finger more on those pitches. But with his changeup and four-seamer, there was next to no pain.

Moving forward, Hendricks will still throw the curve and sinker just as much in bullpens, but he will cut back on how much he throws overall in between starts, etc. It's too early to address the offseason, but Hendricks — who likes to throw a lot during the winter — will likely have to fine-tune that as well.

Hendricks returns right as the Cubs have appeared to turn their season around. They won the first six games coming out of the All-Star Break and after a rough loss against the Cardinals Friday, pulled off an epic, 2016-esque comeback Saturday vs. St. Louis.

The Cubs trotted out Jose Quintana Sunday and will do the same with Hendricks Monday, making it back-to-back starts from guys who weren't a factor in the Cubs rotation for most of June and July.

"I understand the cliche, but it's actually true this time [that players coming off the DL gives a team a boost]," Maddon said. "To get these two guys coming on board at this time in the season. 

"Getting Kyle back with this particular group is really interesting to watch right now. I think that's also gonna be a shot in the arm with the group, just like Jose in Baltimore. You definitely could feel the difference in attitude and I think when Kyle takes the mound, you're gonna feel the same thing, too."

Immediately after hitting the DL, Hendricks had to endure weeks of doing nothing and waiting around until the inflammation subsided. Then he spent the next few weeks building his arm strength back up after going so long without throwing. 

"It's just an obstacle and you have to look at it as positive in a way," he said. "I used it to get my body in shape, get my cardio going, get my shoulder work and my arm strong. Just try to take every positive out of it that I could. 

"Take a little breather in a way, too. Get away from it. But now, I'm ready to go. Mentally, definitely need this, need to be back and need to have baseball back in my life."

Hendricks and the Cubs are also optimistic his time off could mean he's strong for the stretch run.

Maddon and Co. had been looking for ways to bring the starting pitchers along slowly this season after pitching so many innings so deep into last fall.

The starters were held back in spring training, have been held under 100 pitches in most outings this season and get an extra day off whenever possible.

"The guys are all grinding it out while I'm sitting here getting healthy," Hendricks said. "They're wearing down a little bit, so the guys that are healthy by the end of the year, they can provide a little extra for us."