These days, doubleheaders usually get played only because of weather postponements. And they're usually double-admission splits; one in the afternoon and one at night, to maximize revenues. BECAUSE OF MONEY!
But the Cleveland Indians are doing something different Monday. They're playing two against the New York Yankees starting at 12:05 p.m. ET, and fans can watch both games at Progressive Field for the price of one admission. The games originally were scheduled for April 10-11, but were not played because of inclement weather. The Indians used to draw enough fans that split doubleheaders were common. Not only is attendance is down this season, making a split harder to justify, but the Indians happen to be in the middle of a road trip right now. They're coming from Detroit on Sunday and heading to Philadelphia for a game Tuesday.
The rarity prompted team president Mark Shapiro to exclaim, like Ernie Banks might:
Let's play 2. Old school DH today.
— Mark Shapiro (@MarkShapiro) May 13, 2013
The Indians haven't scheduled a traditional doubleheader since 1992 when they played at Municipal Stadium, the Jake's precursor. This isn't that, not quite (and there's no Albert Belle) but it's still fun.
Before the players union existed, before cable television dollars, before air travel became routine, before games routinely lasted three hours, before starting pitchers stopped pitching a heavy amount of complete games, before major league owners fully realized what they were doing, baseball played a lot of single-admission doubleheaders. Two games for the price of one. In 1945, the final year of World War II when gasoline for cars was rationed, the National League played 49.84 percent of its games in doubleheaders. The American League doubled-up nearly as much.
It's been 21 years since the Indians scheduled a doubleheader on purpose and not because of the weather, and it's been two years since any major league team did it, when the Oakland Athletics hosted the Los Angeles Angels in July 2011. The last one before that came in 2003. So we haven't re-started a trend yet.
The Indians might be looking forward to the doubleheader, but the Yankees might have some trouble at the back end of their bullpen: Mariano Rivera and David Robertson each have pitched in four of the past five games coming in. Manager Joe Girardi says in the LoHud Yankees Blog that he has some concerns, but only some:
"It is a little bit,” Girardi said. “But when they need a day off, I give them a day off. … The thing is, as a manager, you have to worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Now I’ll worry about how to get it done. (Yesterday) you have to win. If you have a chance to win a game, you win a game.”
Or two, Joe. Or two.
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