Rain in Irvine … Oh no.

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As storm clouds swirled through the skies, rain pelted down on the bewildered drivers of the 405 and gigantic puddles ambushed the UC Irvine campus, rain became the talk of the town.

Tornado watching disaster aficionados relished the thrill and foreign concept while romantics trudged up to the dreary, cold cliffs and contemplated the meaning behind their tragic destinies. What almost everyone did around campus however, is complain about the “ridiculous” and “terrible” weather that was so plaguing their normal routines around campus.

The Payoff Pitch, however, would like to vouch for rainy days and overcast skies. Besides the associated dangers of cars hydroplaning and unprepared people catching a cold, the rain is an interesting presence that should be appreciated for the unique happenings it brings to the table.

Football, soccer and baseball are all major sports that get enhanced with the presence of rain. In football, soccer and rugby, everything gets slippery and the field becomes an entertaining mud slush. Passing the ball is a lot harder and fumbling becomes a constant threat on every play. The rain raises the hero potential of each match, as the uniforms are dirtied, rain drips down their faces, and visibility is diminished. The setting for an epic play is just as heightened, much like when it is snowing, but in a more gritty, blue-collar way.

Certain kickers have made a living by earning a reputation of kicking in tough ednvironments. These kickers include Ryan Longwell formerly of the Green Bay Packers, and Jeff Reed of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course, no one can forget Adam Vinatieri’s Super Bowl XXXVI game-winning field goal for the New England Patriots, defeating the St. Louis Rams and starting the Patriots’ dynasty of the 2000s. That field goal was under snowy conditions, a close cousin of rain. The freeze frame will forever stand out a little bit more due to the added dimension of the elements.

In baseball, it is kind of a different beast because games do get called if the rain gets bad enough. However, before the umpires make that judgment call, the field gets slick, pitches become a natural sort of spitball and the potential for errors and rare occurrences are increased. True, this is not ideal weather for baseball, and Ernie Banks would definitely not want to play two. But it’s interesting to see once in a while. And the drama is undeniable.

In the 2008 World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies got upset when umpires did not call the game until the Tampa Bay Rays tied the game, even though it had been pretty bad for at least an hour. Fastballs had lost their velocity, puddles were surrounding the bases and mud was caking on everyone’s cleats. The allegation from the Phillies was that Bud Selig and Major League Baseball wanted the game tied so they could simply resume it on the following day, instead of potentially sitting through a long delay and finishing the game that day.

However, when the tarp does go on the field, other interesting things can happen. Vince Coleman, a fleet-footed outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, missed the entire 1985 World Series when an automatic tarp machine rolled over his leg during routine stretching exercises. Kansas City ended up winning the series 4-3 (with the aid of a few umpire blunders), and St. Louis now employs a manual tarp-rolling staff.

We privileged one-season folk of Southern California need to cherish what little rain we get. It would be different if we were in the weary streets of Seattle, where it always rains. But no, sunny skies and a comfortable temperature are the norm here in Irvine. It is no wonder San Diego and Los Angeles churn out hordes of blue chip athletes that can practice all year round while Seattle churns out angsty grunge musicians holed up in their basements, wailing their troubles away.

If you still aren’t convinced that this little stretch of rain wasn’t so bad, just think of all the homeless out there with no shelter to hide from the rain. So dig out that Sea World poncho, bundle up tight and go wreak some havoc on the ARC fields. Appreciate the fact that you could alternatively stay inside and listen to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Remember that there are people out there who aren’t as privileged, so stop your complaining over some measly wet socks.

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