Durham/DBAP - Last night’s game between the Durham Bulls and the Columbus Clippers was delayed by thirty-three minutes due to rain. First pitch ended up being at 7:38. Sprinkles of rain were on and off for the first three and a half innings.
I’m no meteorologist, but the weather is changing this week: The expected high temperatures over the next five days are in the low eighties. Whatever dynamics are in play, the variety of clouds over the DBAP tonight, before darkness fell, was astonishing.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), cloud classifications can be listed as such below (I remember studying this in middle school or junior high science class, but I had to consult NOAA’s website to make sure I got it right):
The NOAA site has diagrams of each cloud type. I’m pretty sure that at least six of those eight types were visible tonight in the first three and a half innings over the DBAP. The range of colors reflected from the setting sun — from blue/grey to white and yellow, and blended tones in between — impressed, as well.
This spring a friend recommended to me, “For the Time Being,” a 1999 book by Pulitzer Prize winning writer Annie Dillard. The book is a sequence of seemingly unrelated narrative chunks, one of the recurring subjects being clouds. Dillard writes: “Digging through layers of books yields dated clouds and near clouds. Why seek dated clouds? Why save a letter, take a snapshot, write a memoir, carve a tombstone?”
Basically, Dillard is saying, clouds are the same - moisture evaporating into vapor. But each formation is different, and if we don’t document each cloud, then something important is gone and missed.
Okay, okay, to compare baseball games to cloud formations — the same routines over and over, with each manifestation entirely unique - might be a reach. But that’s what I was thinking tonight at the DBAP for a few minutes.
I’ve been following baseball since I was a kid in the 1970s and I saw something tonight I’ve never seen. In the bottom of the fourth, the score was tied 1-1, and it began to rain harder than it had rained all evening. It was drizzling hard sheets (if that makes any sense) when catcher Chris Gimenez raked a hard single into right field. Within a few seconds the drizzled sheets became poured waves. Up to the plate stepped the next batter, first baseman Brooks Conrad. The rain continued to thicken. Clippers’ fielders were looking around, wondering when the umps would call a delay. Clippers’ pitcher Matt Packer, making his first start in AAA ball, looked unsure. He pitched to Conrad. The rain fell harder. Conrad blasted a mammoth, 450 foot shot into left field, over the Blue Monster. The shot disappeared into the rain vapor in between Tobacco Road sports bar and the iconic Hit Bull Win Steak billboard. Instantly, when Conrad touched home plate, the grounds crew emerged out of the woodwork and put the tarp on the field. Bulls up 3-1.
I left the DBAP at 10:41 when the grounds crew was putting the tarp on the infield for the fourth time since I arrived at the stadium five hours earlier. The score was 4-1 Bulls, heading into the top of the eighth. The game was delayed, not called. The delay would be a minimum of thirty minutes, we were told. So I cruised. I couldn’t see how they’d start again. The rain was heavy, and the radar was full of green cells.
When I arrived at home at 11:15, the game still hadn’t been called. A cloud undated by me.
UPDATE. 7:48 AM: The umpires called the game around midnight. The Bulls 4-1 lead stands in the rain-shortened affair.