Well, the ball is yellow, so maybe they could have played.

Monday was supposed to be the home opener for the East Central College softball Falcons, but the brutal cold has put the brakes on that.

Are we ever going to have a spring sports season? And how many games are area teams going to get to play?

For the high schools, Monday was supposed to be the first day of spring practices. It’s going to be a bit before any teams actually get outside with this weather.

Of all high school seasons, the spring is most dependent on weather. At least it’s better than it used to be. Now we have one indoor team (Borgia boys volleyball) which will play when the weather’s not so great outdoors.

Normally, the big problem in the spring is rain and wet field conditions.

I can remember one of those wet years, my senior year of high school. During a game at Montgomery County, I stole second base and it seemed like I had to swim the final three feet to the bag. Yes, we were that desperate to get games played that soggy spring.

We don’t have those problems quite as much now with the continued addition of outdoor all-weather venues in track, soccer and baseball, but you can’t play in this type of cold. Maybe someone can build a dome for us to get the games in.

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The wild weather this winter has yielded some unexpected bonuses as I’ve seen more NASCAR in the first two weeks of the season than I have in the past five years combined.

The extreme cold kept me inside for the Phoenix race while the long rain delay at Daytona made that the best option the previous week.

So far this season, the story is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not only did he win the Daytona 500, but he also zoomed to over 568,000 Twitter followers in just over a week.

NASCAR has a new playoff format, its fourth since 2004. I don’t know why the NASCAR brass felt it had to change the rules once again. Fans were just getting used to the latest tweaks in the whole chase format and now it’s knocked down to an elimination bracket.

It will start with 16 drivers in the first of the 10 chase races, with four drivers getting knocked out every three races. And the Cup will go to the driver finishing the highest in the final race among the four still eligible.

Any traditionalist should hate it. I do.

The old system wasn’t broke, and a fan could become used to the chase even with all of the tinkering which has gone on.

The new system gives much, too much, importance to winning, and emphasizes the higher finish in the last race as being the climax. Forget consistent finishes. Winning is what counts now. Might as well forget the points system as well.

The old system was created to get the teams to go to as many events as possible, and not cherry-pick the big money events. I don’t think this is as much of a problem now, but once a team which doesn’t compete in a lot of races, or brings in an ace to win a specialty race (road course) and gets into the chase, you’re going to see a lot of grumbling.

Earnhardt and Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick pretty much are in the chase now. They could take the rest of the season off and still come back for the playoffs. They won’t because of sponsors, but there’s that potential.

I think when the fans riot because a normal back-marker gets lucky (how does Danica Patrick, Sprint Cup Series champion, sound?), wins a race and then happens to finish at the front of the four final competitors at the last event (and it could be positions 40-43), NASCAR is going to have to rethink this strategy once again. I don’t believe the current one is too sound.

There’s been a lot of news lately about Danica Patrick and her war of words with the Petty family. At this point, she probably could beat Richard Petty in a race. Remember that the King is going to be 77 in June. Danica turns 32 later this month. Bring in a Richard Petty circa the 1968 season and that would be a more fair comparison. Racing between then and now is a much different experience. I would have to give a younger Petty the edge on that one.

Does Danica deserve to be in NASCAR? I think the late, great Smokey Yunick was correct when he observed that there are hundreds of potential great drivers out there, but to get a ride today, you’ve got to bring a sponsor and be marketable. That’s just the reality of the sport now and Danica brings in money and fans. She may never win a race, but she’ll race as long as she wants.

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Condolences to the family of Mike Elder, who was the primary prep volleyball writer for stltoday.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Mike died last week at the age of 52.

Covered many events with Mike over the years and he was not only professional and a class act, but also knowledgeable about his subject matter. They don’t get any better than Mike.