We are all ready for baseball season, but Mother Nature has other plans. During the opening day games this week in New York, players wore windbreakers under their jerseys and interesting headgear. We usually see this type of head sock worn by football players beneath their helmets. Improving body temperature maintained by clothes and under armor keeps muscles warm and flexible.
It is much more difficult to play the game of baseball in the cold, which is probably why we play in the spring and summer. Muscle damage may take place without the proper coverage of the body. This is especially key as the players explosively react in both defensive and offensive positions. Skin will become tight, nails brittle, causing pain and easy damage upon catching the ball. Fingers are especially injury prone. The skin may split open upon making contact with the hardball. Small bones in the fingers may be easily injured, tendons and muscles around them tighten. For instance, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees, got hit in the finger by a ball during the second game of the season. He had it examined by a doctor and will take it slow as the season progresses.
Playing conditions on the field affect play, too. Cold thins the air, and hardens the earth, causing the ball to move in a different, typically faster, fashion. Balls may take strange hops off a harder grass turf if temperatures are just above freezing. Colder air allows the ball to move faster, because there is less moisture in cold air.
I realize these are small things, but all of these small things add up on the field. Fans must be careful, too, making sure to bundle up and stay hydrated with warm liquids. Beer is fun at the game, but it gives you a false sense of comfort. Alcoholic beverages actually dehydrate the body. Water is a key component for warmth and removing it will ultimately leave you, well, out in the cold. Be sure to keep skin moisturized and cover up as much as possible. Sip water, hot tea, or half priced hot chocolate this April at Fenway to keep warm.
If all else fails, think about a hot summer day, and all the complaining you do about how hot it is during a day game, directly in the sun, in July.