All of this represents a drastic swing from recent World Series weather, especially considering that Game 2 of last year’s Series between the Indians and Chicago Cubs had a game-time temperature of 43 degrees in Cleveland.
The unusual heat in Los Angeles also comes amid a period of extreme weather events around the country, such as the devastating hurricanes that have hit Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida; temperatures of over 100 degrees in Portland in August and San Francisco last month; and the wildfires that have raged through parts of California.
“For Angelinos, October is Santa Ana season,” said William Patzert, a climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is about 10 miles northeast of Dodger Stadium.
Santa Ana winds blow toward the Pacific Ocean when a high-pressure system builds over the Great Basin desert in Nevada. That pushes winds through the high desert and three mountain passes — Cajon, Banning and Santa Clarita River — at speeds ranging from 30 to 50 miles per hour.
“As they drop down into the basin where Dodger Stadium is, they tend to heat up and dry out,” Patzert said. “What we’re expecting in the next couple days is record-breaking heat.”
This could be not-so-welcome news for the starting pitchers in Game 1, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Dallas Keuchel of the Astros.
Dodger Stadium, which sits in Chavez Ravine in the hills just above downtown Los Angeles, is one of baseball’s more pitcher-friendly ballparks — especially at night. This is due to not only the stadium’s dimensions, with its ample 385-foot power alleys, but also Los Angeles’s weather patterns. Normally, mornings bring an offshore flow, as warm air is carried out toward the ocean.
In the afternoon, the winds often shift, bringing in a moist, heavier marine layer that benefits pitchers, weighing down long drives that might normally leave the ballpark. If that marine air is absent, replaced by warm, dry and thin air from the Santa Ana winds, it could be a boon for lineups with plenty of pop. The Astros were second in the American League with 238 home runs, while the Dodgers were fourth in the National League with 221.
For a long time, weather was less of an issue in the World Series. Until the postseason was expanded in 1969, the World Series wrapped up much earlier in October. And until 1971, when Commissioner Bowie Kuhn persuaded NBC to begin broadcasting some World Series games at night, postseason games were played exclusively during the day.
Kuhn, sensitive to criticism over the move away from traditional day baseball, sat in the stands without an overcoat during Game 2 of the 1976 World Series, even though others around him shivered as they watched the Yankees play the Reds in Cincinnati. In 1979, Kuhn prohibited the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates from wearing ski caps during warm-ups or in the dugout, even though it was 41 degrees at the start of Game 1.
After Kuhn was long gone, the postseason calendar kept expanding. Division series were added in 1995 to supplement the league championship series that had begun 26 years before. And then a wild-card game was added for each league in 2012.
The extended postseason action has created the opportunity for more bone-chilling nights when the Series takes place in cities like Boston, New York, Denver, Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia.
After the frigid 2006 World Series, when the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers improvised to keep warm when the temperature dipped below 40 degrees, the New Era apparel company persuaded Major League Baseball to allow it to develop three types of cold-weather accouterments: knit ski caps, balaclavas and fleece-lined baseball caps with ear flaps, which drew comparison to cartoon character Elmer Fudd’s hunting cap.
The gear came in handy in 2008, when the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays had to play in wet, windy and cold conditions in Philadelphia.
A year later, the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels bundled up in the A.L. Championship Series, when it was wet and windy with temperatures dipping below 40 in the series opener at Yankee Stadium. The Angels shortstop Erick Aybar and the Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano wore balaclavas — and each committed defensive blunders: Aybar letting a pop up fall in Game 1 and Cano committing two errors in Game 2.
Such gear will definitely not be necessary on Tuesday, when the Astros and the Dodgers will be trying to beat each other — and the heat.
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