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Cold front

My pen is frozen. My Skittles are as hard as iron. It’s April 16 and snow is falling. Again. I’m huddled on the bleachers at the El Jebel baseball field, wrapped in every piece of winter clothing I own. As my teeth chatter uncontrollably, I can’t help but notice the Basalt assistant wearing shorts – I’m guessing he lost a bet. I attempt to keep score on a drenched sheet of paper while wearing ski gloves (kind of like crocheting in oven mitts), but I’m finding the endeavor arduous. It could be because my only writing utensil is a dull pencil I found under the front seat of my Jeep. Or it could be because I’m shaking like the needles on a polygraph machine. It’s 60 degrees in Eaton. Photographer Paul Conrad waddles over, cursing repeatedly under his breath as a gust of wind shoves him sideways. “This is football weather,” he says, trembling.This is not football weather. This is Iditarod weather. This is Pawtuckaway (N.H.) Open Charity Ice Golf and Chili Bowl weather. Or, more accurately, this is a typical day in what has become a not-so typical spring sports season.Global warming, my (frozen) ass.Springs sports and the high country have gone together like water polo and Death Valley of late. Forget team-issued warm-ups. Valley schools should consider investing in team-issued goose down Himalayan suits. Or at least fleece-lined batting helmets. This would be the perfect time for me to grow a beard. Better luck next year. I laughed when Basalt soccer coach Chris Woods showed up to the April 10 game in Aspen decked out in a snowboard jacket and pants, gloves, goggles and an earflap beanie. By the second half, as I counted my toes through the nylon in my running shoes to make sure all 10 were intact, I was envious. “I’m hoping that 1) we win something; and 2) it’ll quit snowing,” said wind-burned Roaring Fork baseball coach Steve Kinney on Wednesday.I agree. I’m tired of bleachers and dugouts looking like Everest base camp. I’m tired of conducting postgame interviews with a steady stream of snot flowing from both nostrils. It’s hard enough to get people to take me seriously as it is. I’m tired of listening to coaches refuse to make excuses for their team’s struggles when I openly acknowledge practicing indoors for the bulk of the season is a major hindrance. I’m tired of Basalt and Aspen playing baseball games in De Beque – a place Aspen Times sports editor Nate Peterson is convinced was where the Coen brothers filmed “No Country for Old Men” – because local fields are buried or unusable.I’m tired of trying to peek over and around parents clogging the sideline because the plow guy only cleared a 2-foot swath on the perimeter of the playing surface.I’m tired of having to play amateur meteorologist, checking storm fronts hovering over the Pacific Northwest in the days before games and trying to plan accordingly. Inevitably, I guess wrong and am wearing sandals when the freezing rain hits.I’m tired of watching soccer players dive precariously into snowbanks while chasing loose balls.I’m tired of going from wiffle ball one day to hiding under my jacket hood the next. And I’m not even playing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to fight off an inside fastball, track a fly ball that disappeared into an abyss of snow and dense clouds or head a ball in 30-degree weather. And forget about trying to pick up signs; I’d confuse the third-base coach blowing into his hands for the hit-and-run at least twice a game.Is this anybody’s idea of fun? Should we consider some alternative activities? Bowling comes to mind. Or scooter hockey.Can we call it quits right now and try again next year? I don’t know about you, but this season seems jinxed. How else could one explain the Skiers goalkeeper injuring her MCL at a school fundraiser, or a stretch in which games were canceled because of snow, then a brush fire?”What’s next?” Woods said recently. “Locusts? No, flood?”I vote for locusts, unless someone has waders I can borrow.Jon Maletz, a.k.a. “The Hammer,” was hoping the spring sports season would give him the chance to get some sun. He’s going to look like a water chestnut until June. E-mail him at jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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