If you hear about a doubleheader being played in today’s MLB betting schedule, it almost always as the result of a rainout the day before. However, there was a time when doubleheaders were commonly part of a team’s schedule, especially on such holidays as Memorial Day or Labor Day. However, now teams can only schedule one a year, and they generally don’t schedule any because they don’t want to have to lose the gate of the second game, as fans often stick around between games. Some teams, like the Boston Red Sox, schedule enough time between the games on the makeup doubleheaders to clear the stands and then have fans buy another ticket, but that generally has attendance even lower.
2015 MLB Betting: Should Doubleheaders Be Reinstated?
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 2, 2015
Sometimes, though, teams will schedule a doubleheader as part of a promotion. The prior Collective Bargaining Agreement actually kept teams from scheduling doubleheaders without the union’s permission and special circumstances. However, the new CBA allows one a year, and teams get to add a player for the day of the doubleheader. One example happened in 2013, when the Arizona Diamondbacks scheduled a Memorial Day doubleheader when the Texas Rangers were in town. The teams had an off day on Sunday and then played two on Monday, as the Diamondbacks had a special Memorial Day promotion. The Chicago Cubs scheduled a doubleheader on June 28, 2014, because June 29 was supposed to feature significant traffic with the Chicago Pride Parade.
Would more doubleheaders be a good thing? Or a bad thing?
In 1943, the White Sox played 44 doubleheaders – the most in league history. They also had 47 days that season when they had no games. In the current schedule, teams have 162 games in 183 days, so there are only 21 off days, and the majority of those are spent traveling rather than resting.
If teams had more doubleheaders, the regular season cold also be shorter, with the World Series finishing in October rather than extending past Halloween. Each year, the risk of an East Coast team playing World Series games in snow is a very real one. The end result could also be some more off days for players.
On the other hand, doubleheaders test a roster’s durability. If a team has to get through 18 innings in one day, and either (or both) starting pitchers have a poor game, the bullpen can be in real trouble the rest of that week. Also, if there is a long game the night before a doubleheader, and then the first game starts at noon or 1:00, that can be tough for the players. Some position players may end up playing 18 innings. The fact that most owners would want to clear the stands and have a second gate, with ticket takers, would make the day longer for the players.
Another factor to consider is that the modern game is longer as well. On September 26, 1926, the St. Louis Browns and the New York Yankees completed an entire doubleheader in two hours and seven minutes of playing time – and the second game only took 55 minutes, a major league record. The scores were 6-1 and 6-2, and the teams combined for 40 hits, so it wasn’t a pair of pitching duels that made things go quickly. Nowadays, getting one game in 2:07 is a rarity.
Still another factor is the fact that teams play more opponents now thanks to interleague play. That can make dealing with a rainout more difficult, as teams only play one series on some ballparks. To make up those lost games, additional travel is often necessary. So with all of the logistical and financial wrinkles, it’s still not worthwhile to add more doubleheaders to the schedule. It would be fun sometimes – which is why the next CBA should still permit one per season.