If it’s cold and snowing, it must be the White Sox’ home opener!

SHARE If it’s cold and snowing, it must be the White Sox’ home opener!
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Fans watch the White Sox’ home opener against the Tigers on Thursday. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The flurries started in earnest in the third inning, transforming a baseball game into a Christmas story. The snow didn’t accumulate, and a tongue wouldn’t have stuck to a foul pole, but it wasn’t pleasant.

The temperature was 43 degrees for the White Sox’ home opener Thursday, with winds from the south/southwest at 10 mph. Some fans were bundled up beyond recognition. Winter hats outnumbered baseball caps about 10-to-1. The red-white-and-blue decorative bunting around the ballpark was kicking itself for having not dressed in layers.

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Is this any way to play or watch baseball?

Now, more than ever, we need an old man yelling at a cloud. I am that man.

I’m yelling at you, snow clouds! I’m yelling at you, feels-like temperature of 34! I’m specifically yelling at you, baseball in April!

If I know one thing in life, it’s that baseball and April and Chicago do not go together.

There should be a rule: If players feel the urge to wear ski masks during a game, it’s not baseball season yet.

If the term “wintry mix” is in the forecast, it’s not baseball season yet.

If a team is handing out free winter hats to the first 15,000 customers, as the Sox will Saturday, it’s not baseball season yet.

I have nothing against the elements playing a role in sports. Football should be played outdoors in almost all weather. So should luge, short of 70-degree temperatures, though that would be interesting. But it’s important to be able to feel your hands as a baseball player, something that’s hard to do if the temperature is in the 30s or 40s. You can stay relatively warm in football because you’re actually running. In baseball, there’s a lot of standing around, a lot of loitering and a lot of guys looking like ice sculptures when it’s cold.

The crowd of 33,318 thinned considerably after the snow started falling Thursday. By the ninth inning, the temperature had dropped to 35. I’m told anti-freeze outsold beer by a 2-1 margin.

The Cubs’ home opener is Monday, which of course means the predicted high temperature is 39, with snow in the forecast.

No one wants to be at a baseball game in the cold in late March or early April in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit or New York. No one. There were people at the Sox’ home opener who surely would have disagreed with that statement. They would have been lying through their chattering teeth.

If you’ve ever watched spring high school baseball games in Chicago, you know that it challenges your will to live. But at some point, you get smart and become the parent in the car with the heat blasting. That wasn’t possible at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday.

Both the Yankees and the Mets postponed their home openers Monday because of snow. At the Yankees’ home opener two years ago, heaters were put atop the bat racks, according to the New York Times. I ask you: Is that how the game is supposed to be played?

“It’s tough,’’ White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “You don’t like seeing some of the games, whether they’re here or throughout the league, being played in sub-optimal conditions. But at the same time, you know it’s part of baseball.

“It could have been 60 [degrees]. I understand it was 60 here a couple weeks ago at the end of March. I think the [players] do a pretty good job of blocking it out and just getting through it the best they can.’’

To give players more rest, Major League Baseball added four off days to the 2018 schedule. The trade-off was that the season started earlier, in late March.

You’re going the wrong way!

My solution, which will never be adopted, is to start the season May 1 and have the postseason start in September so that World Series games aren’t played in Novemberrrrrrrr.

A chorus of 30 owners is laughing at my idea, laughing all the way to the bank. The more games, the more money. But even if baseball just cut back to 154 games, the way it was until 1961 for the American League and 1962 for the National League, we could avoid some of the nastiness of April baseball.

Everybody has a story about that nastiness.

“We had a game in Kansas City one night, the wind was blowing in at like 40 miles an hour and it was 30 degrees without the wind chill,’’ said former Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who threw out the first pitch Thursday. “It was rough.’’

It wasn’t nearly that bad for the home opener, though when first baseman Jose Abreu was driven onto the field in a convertible for the pregame ceremonies, he was blowing into his hands to warm them more than he was waving to the crowd.

What says “baseball in Chicago in April’’ more than that?

Want more of Rick Morrissey and Rick Telander? Tune into the weekly “Two Ricks: Unfiltered” podcast where the two long-time friends pull back the curtain on their incredible experiences and tackle hot-button issues in sports. New episodes drop every Friday. Listen and subscribe here.

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