Gorch on the Porch: Why not artificial?

Photo by Steve T. GorchesMichigan City baseball coach Josh Malone rolls the grass part of his field on Wednesday with a pigeon flying overhead. The Wolves' game against Merrillville was postponed until Thursday.

There was Michigan City baseball coach Josh Malone still with his uniform on under a hoody, about an hour after the scheduled start time of Wednesday’s baseball game against Merrillville.

He was the only one at the Wolves’ baseball field, so you know there was no game.

Mother Nature strikes again.

But Malone was still working, and he did have some fine feathered friends with him — about a dozen pigeons that were just chilling in the outfield. Malone was rolling the infield grass to help with the possibility of playing the postponed game on Thursday.

“Yeah, I had to dodge some poop from one of them,” he said in reference to the pigeons.

I’m not a big fan of birds since I love cats and hope the latter eats the former, but I digress.

I’m also not a big fan of baseball and softball postponements because of rain.

What’s that you say? They can’t be prevented? Hogwash.

Sure, if it’s a steady rain, playing would be a safety concern. But if the baseball and softball fields were Fieldturf instead of grass and dirt, Wednesday’s games would have gone on without a hitch.

“Oh man, that would be great,” Malone said with a big smile when I mentioned turf to him. “At least just in the infield. The outfield is fine.”

The Michigan City softball team played on Wednesday … at Lake Central, which has turf on both its baseball and softball fields. L.C. baseball also played its game against Crown Point. As long as it’s not raining hard at game time, getting games in is a piece of cake.

So your first inclination might be, “It costs too much.”

Depends on how you look at it. Putting Fieldturf on an entire baseball field ran $750,000 in 2012, while just doing the infield like Malone mentioned has run as low as $250,000. Softball is likely a little less since the fields are smaller. The cost of a whole field is offset in 10 years or less with much less maintenance.

That process of rolling Malone was doing wouldn’t be needed with turf. No more grass-cutting, no more Diamond Dry for wet dirt. And the convenience of an athletic director having fewer postponements to worry about doesn’t have a price. It’s just less stressful and more logical.

Michigan City’s field behind the school aren’t very good. They sit in a sort of valley and don’t hold water well at all. La Porte's fields are better. New Prairie's fields are build on top of rock — according to multiple players — and don't drain very quickly. Turf would make all of them perfect and efficient. Sounds like an easy decision to me.

• IHSAA class changes: Last month the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) announced class changes for the next two school years, and local teams were affected in good and bad ways.

First, let’s mention the bad. Soccer expanded from two to three classes with our larger schools not affected. Michigan City, Chesterton and La Porte move into 3A. On the bottom end, Marquette stays in Class A but doesn’t get relief from its biggest sectional roadblocks.

The Blazer boys are still in the same class — and likely same sectional, again — as Andrean, while Wheeler moves up to 2A. So that bodes well for the girls since Wheeler has been a brick wall for Marquette’s up-and-coming girls soccer team, right?

Nope, because in girls, Wheeler stays in Class A while Andrean moves up to 2A. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Now the good, starting with football. La Porte moves back down to 5A where it should be. The Slicers are definitely on the rise under head coach Dave Sharpe, but if they were in 5A last season, they would have hoisted a sectional trophy.

La Porte and Michigan City — under team on the rise under new coach Phil Mason — should be in the same sectional and the rivalry will be even bigger. The only slight downer is that perennial sectional contender Munster is moving back up to 5A.

Marquette did get some good news in that its girls basketball team will stay in Class A for two years, and the boys will stay in 2A for two more years.

First impression may be that being in a higher class isn’t good news for the Blazer boys, but they should have won the 2A state title last month if not for some bad calls — oops, I mean bad breaks — at semistate against Frankton, which won the following week. Class A would give the Blazers a tough matchup in the sectional against back-to-back regional champ Gary 21st Century. In 2A, the Blazers have a cleaner path to the semistate, especially with News-Dispatch player of the year Colin Kenney back for two years.

Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at sgorches@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.

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