It took just three games into the restarted MLB season for games to start getting postponed and there’s no reason to believe that this season will be filled with countless postponed games ahead. With only 60-games on the schedule (compared to 162 games in a normal season) the league is crunched for time.
On Thursday, ESPN reports the MLBPA and Major Leauge Baseball agreed to make up the postponed games using 7-inning doubleheaders to save time. This is now the second rule change this season aimed at shortening games. The other is the new MLB extra innings rule where a runner starts on 2nd base.
From comments in the ESPN report, it seems like there are mixed reviews on this proposal. But before we get to those here are proposed changes:
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed Thursday to stage seven-inning doubleheaders starting Saturday, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
With a number of doubleheaders expected to take place because of rescheduled games due to current and potential coronavirus outbreaks as well as weather-related postponements, shortening doubleheaders to seven innings was a compromise that came together quickly, sources said.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark called deputy commissioner Dan Halem during the first doubleheader of the season Tuesday and said players might want to consider shortened twin bills this year. The union surveyed its members as it considered proposing either two seven-inning games for a doubleheader, or nine innings for the opener and seven for the nightcap. A source confirmed to ESPN that MLB was checking opinions among owners and general managers. (via ESPN)
Under the new rules, if a 7-inning doubleheader goes to extra innings the new rules will apply and a runner will start the 8th inning on 2nd base.
This isn’t the most radical change in the history of baseball. The Minor Leagues (and college) have used 7-inning doubleheaders for a long time. So it’s not as if these players aren’t at least somewhat accustomed to this new rule already.
Adam Ottavino, a reliever for the Yankees, expressed concern that relievers might ‘be marginalized out of the game’ and called this a ‘slippery slope’. Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon also expressed concern that this might be a little shortsighted:
“If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.
“You just accelerate what you’re doing, just like we’re doing with the season. So I get it from the perspective of expediency, if it’s necessary. … I’m in for anything right now. I’m not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them.” (via ESPN)
If I was able to buy tickets right now and go see 7-inning doubleheaders I’d think this was an incredible rule but even as a pretty serious baseball fan I can’t envision myself finding time to casually watch a bunch of 14-inning days several times throughout the season. That’s such a massive chunk of my time that it seems unrealistic as a fan to be able to catch it all.
To read the full report over on ESPN you can click right here.