We're near the end of August and this area isn't on the drought monitor.
That means we've had a lot of rain. Normally, I don't mind the rain. But during fall and spring sports seasons, rain can cause a lot of headaches.
We try to plan sports coverage and raindrops wash away those plans. This fall I have already lost three days to rain and changed what the game I was covering two other times simply due to weather.
I really enjoyed the drive up to Meeker only to pull into the parking lot just in time to see the skies open up and opponents running to their bus to head back home. At Earlsboro and El Reno, they got the games in, but you had to watch your step or you could wind up ankle deep in mud.
Coaches will do anything to get games in. Canceling games doesn't help anyone. Sump pumps move puddles off the infield. A rake becomes your best friend.
I have spent more than a decade as a youth baseball coach or league administrator. Sometimes rakes and pumps just aren't fast enough.
I will never forget the year we hosted a district tournament in Chickasha. I was the league president and we paid a college kid to be our commissioner. He got the fields mowed and ready for play and organized schedules and umpires. It was an expense, but he was worth it.
The district tournament meant we were going to finish the year with a nest egg for the next season. It was a 12-team tournament and the gate and concessions revenue brought a big post-season windfall.
We had only two games left. The third place game and the tournament championship. Then it happened. Saturday was washed out by hours of thunderstorms. The state tournament was set the next week so we had to finish Sunday. The rain finally stopped Saturday night late so from 10 p.m. on, we were moving water puddles from one place to another. At 6 a.m., the sun finally came out but it was obvious that the field wouldn't be ready by 1 p.m. for the first game.
We had to figure something out. Some ideas are better than others.
File this one under "it worked, but never do it again."
We decided we had to speed up the process. A lack of sleep and desperation put everything on the table. We decided to pour gasoline on the mud and set it ablaze. The heat would dry the ground. We did it and evaporated some water. A little raking showed what seemed like progress.
If a little is good, a lot is better - or so we thought. When the commissioner went to pour more gasoline on the home plate area, it seems some heat or a bit of flame was still burning. He had a five gallon gas can in his hands and suddenly, he was standing in a ring of fire. He took off running, spilling gas behind him, and looking a lot like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. He jumped up on the fence and escaped the flames with only some singed hair on his ankles.
We kept up the process all morning and we got the games in with no delay. It might be the only time in Oklahoma history that a kid slid in to home plate and came up with a black stain on his pants from charred ground, but we got it done.
That was nothing compared to the year Chickasha was hosting a 14-and-under national AAU baseball tournament and a week of heavy rains delayed games left and right.
We had to fill four pages a day with tournament coverage and had 36 hours with no games at all. I was writing columns about how the Marlins and Pirates would probably win because they do better in aquatic environments.
It was bad.
They had a similar storm with bad timing blow through before their championship game.
They didn't burn the mud until it was dry, they actually brought in a helicopter to hover over the field like a huge fan to dry the ground. It worked, too.
We didn't have a helicopter in the budget or maybe we wouldn't have almost roasted ourselves and received a friendly visit from the Chickasha Fire Department who wondered what was causing all the black smoke.
Sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind and just get the games in.