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Why not play two? Because it takes too long!
2008-07-04 23:07
by Bob Timmermann

Bill Dwyre, sports editor emeritus of the LA Times (unlike people who will just leave the paper after getting a nice chat with the folks from HR), bemoans the lack of doubleheaders played on holidays.

It's a piece waxing nostalgic on doubleheaders with some delightful anecdotes. But Dwyre forgets the one big reason why teams don't schedule doubleheaders unless they're forced to: they take a long time to play.

Unless you know ahead of time that you've got two Greg Maddux-like pitchers going for each team in each game and nobody is planning to score much, then you're in business. If not, you're likely looking at keeping people in the park for six to seven hours.

I could probably handle that and lot of people reading this wouldn't mind that much time at the stadium. But the average doesn't want to do it. I couldn't picture taking a child under the age of 13 to a baseball stadium for that length of time.

What if the Yankees and Red Sox had played a single admission doubleheader back on August 18, 2006. Game one lasted 3:55. Game two lasted 4:45. Neither game went into extra innings. Eight hours and forty minutes in total. If those games had been played right after another, it would have been a nine hour day. The fans don't get paid time and a half.

I've attended one doubleheader in my life. It was on June 26, 1988 in Oakland. The Twins swept the A's, winning the first game 11-0, and the second one 5-0. I sat in the right field bleachers with my then-girlfriend, a Minneapolis native and a big Twins fan. She made it through the first game and a couple of innings of the second before heading off to some concert that I recall having no interest in attending.

I do recall that it was a very long day. And there were a lot of very hammered people on the BART train on the way back to Berkeley. I look back at that doubleheader as more of an endurance test rather than a fun day at the park.

2008-07-05 00:23:29
1.   Louis in SF
Just read the Dwyre piece and in some ways while it pines for the days when pitchers used to pitch 9 innings if they could and pitch counts were not as important, it does point out one very critical thing, if you had a few double headers on holidays and maybe one other Saturday or Sunday, you might shave off a week of the season, which would mean you could start the playoffs earlier and you wouldn't be playing the World Series almost in November.

If MLB is concerened about money, rather than a double header being a straight 2-1, if you bought both games you would get a discount, not a full 2-1 but maybe a 50% reduction.

2008-07-05 05:26:46
2.   DXMachina
I attended the Mets-Rangers doubleheader three weeks ago, and came to the same conclusion as you. I would've liked to stay for the whole thing, but the second game didn't even start until about 5:00. I watched the first three innings of what turned out to be Willie Randolph's penultimate game as manager, then headed for home (about a five hour trip). If I still lived in New Jersey instead of Rhode Island, I probably would've stayed for the whole thing. Even then it would've been a very long day.

It was my second doubleheader. The first was a twi-night affair at Shea vs the Phils on August 14, 1964, a year in which the Mets played in 23 doubleheaders, 16 at then brand new Shea. They played three doubleheaders against the Phillies at Shea that year. My grandfather's fire company picked the wrong one to go to. If they'd chosen the doubleheader my best friend attended in June, I would've gotten to see Jim Bunning's perfect game, too.

It doesn't help the cause of doubleheaders that the way pitchers are used has changed so much. The Phils used three pitchers in the games I saw (Bunning threw a complete game 5-hitter), and the Mets used 6. The Mets and Rangers used 17. (Although in checking the boxes, I noticed that both second games were almost exactly the same length, 2:49 in '64 and 2:46 in '08. The first game in '64 was 2:28. They don't list a time for the 1st game on 6/15, but it started at 1:05 and ended around 4:30.)

2008-07-05 05:48:45
3.   monkeypants
When games lasted 2 hours, and they played real DHs (not split day/night DHs), attending a DH made some sense. Heck, I would love 5 or 6 hours at the park on a nice Saturday.

But longer breaks between innings for commercials, more pitching changes, more offense (especially more walks), longer times between games, etc. make the thought of a big league DH pretty daunting.

2008-07-05 05:52:06
4.   JL25and3
I used to love doubleheaders. As far as I'm concerned, one of the few things better than seeing a ballgame is seeing two of them.

But there's no question, it worked when games were a lot shorter than they are now.

2008-07-05 11:02:06
5.   Linkmeister
The last D/H I went to was in the early 1980s at Aloha Stadium, and even at the AAA level it was too long. Hard plastic seats for 7-8 hours? I was in my 30s then; I even had a little more padding on my backside, but no way. Never again.
2008-07-05 12:38:37
6.   Woden325
I was at this double header ( back in '05 at Coors Field.
First game was 11 innings, nearly 4 hours, the second was a brisk 2 and 1/4 hours.
I enjoyed it, except for the fact that our seats were in the sun and it was 90+ degrees. I flirted with heat exhaustion by the time I decided to move to the shady left-field seats.
I'm all in favor of a couple of traditional double-headers sprinkled through the season. I'd even be willing to consider the minor league rule of doing 7-inning games instead of full games.
2008-07-05 12:42:11
7.   Tom Meagher
People who loved major league baseball when scoring was much lower and there was less intervention from television are really obstinate about these kinds of things, but they never seem to focus on suggesting changes to lower the run environment etc. to make their actual suggestions feasible.

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