Sports

Aim of earlier schedule is to avoid wintry weather

On the same night Major League Baseball released its preliminary 2011 master schedule, featuring an earlier start and finish to the season, the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox to increase their lead in the American League Central race to seven games.

Why the link between these two events? Because the Twins’ crucial victory Tuesday brought them one step closer to securing a playoff berth – and brought baseball one step closer to the chilling possibility of November baseball in Minneapolis, where the Twins now play in a new stadium, Target Field, without a roof. It is exactly the sort of scenario the Special Committee for On-Field Matters was seeking to avoid when it recommended the schedule shift.

“I think there’s a real issue with the weather,” said Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who serves on the special committee. “You can get bad weather in October, but. … the chance of good weather is much better than if you have a cold spell in the first week of November.”

Thus, the 2011 season will start at the end of March and will be completed by the end of September, with the World Series wrapping up before Halloween. This year, by contrast, the regular season ends on Oct. 3, with Game 7 of the World Series scheduled for Nov. 4.

It isn’t just Minneapolis that MLB was worried about in terms of World Series weather. Dicey weather in Philadelphia wreaked havoc upon the 2008 World Series, to name one recent example. But the Twins’ decision to forego a roof at their new yard may have increased the baseball’s urgency for making a change.

TESTIMONY BEGINS IN ADENHART TRIAL

The stepbrother of a man charged with murder in a drunken-driving crash that killed rookie Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others testified that he persuaded the defendant to keep drinking after he said he wanted to stop.

Raymond Rivera said he and defendant Andrew Gallo spent hours drinking at two bars before the deadly crash. When Gallo went to the restroom, Rivera said he ordered two more beers, but Gallo wanted to go home rather than drink them.

Rivera testified that he egged Gallo on, telling him that he paid for the beers and they should finish them.

“I told him I had wasted my last couple of bucks on it and you’re not going to drink it? I thought you were my brother,” Rivera said.

Rivera choked up during his testimony and had to pause to compose himself. Gallo appeared to be crying at the defense table.

AROUND THE HORN

Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte is set to rejoin the starting rotation on Sunday. He has been sidelined since June 19 by a strained left groin. With his return, Javier Vazquez will shift to a long relief role. … The Cincinnati Reds’ game against Arizona on Wednesday was briefly delayed in the top of the third inning when a young man and woman draped a sign over the center field fence protesting Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law. An usher told the couple to remove the sign and then carried it away. The couple left a few minutes later. … The Padres claimed right-hander Cesar Carrillo off waivers from the Phillies. Last week, the Phillies claimed him off waivers from the Padres. He was 5-14 with a 5.60 ERA with Triple-A Portland. … Al LaMacchia, a former executive with the Blue Jays during their World Series championships and a longtime scout for several teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, died Wednesday. He was 89. Among the players he scouted or signed were Dale Murphy, Dave Stieb and David Wells.

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