MLB mulling 7-inning doubleheaders, source says
NEW YORK — Ernie Banks famously said: “Let’s play two.”
Baseball players just might not want to play nine innings twice in one day during this pandemic-delayed season.
While the Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox in the first doubleheader of the season on Tuesday, union head Tony Clark called deputy commissioner Dan Halem and said players might want to consider shortened twin bills this year.
The players’ association is surveying members and might propose 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 Major League Baseball is checking opinions among owners and general managers, and league staff hope for a decision by Saturday to make a change or leave the rules the way the are.
Philadelphia and Toronto are scheduled for a doubleheader on Saturday as the Phillies resume play following a five-day layoff. The time off was caused by waiting to make sure no players or staff were infected during games against the Miami Marlins last weekend.
Phillies general Matt Klentak said seven-inning games are possible for the twin bill.
“I like nine and nine, personally,” Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino said Wednesday. “I don’t want to be marginalized out of the game, once we go seven-inning games, slippery slope there.”
Official Baseball Rules allow minor leagues to adopt a rule providing one or both games of a doubleheader be seven innings. NCAA rules allow the options of two nine-inning games, a seven and a nine or two sevens.
The union’s survey was first reported by The Athletic.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s necessary based on how this season has been set up,” Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.”
Given modern usage of pitchers, Maddon said the shortened game would be the equivalent of starting the games in the third inning. He could bring in relievers earlier.
“The sixth inning, the fifth inning play differently,” he said.
“You just get to that ninth inning a lot sooner. The sixth inning, the fifth inning play differently based on [when] the game [is] supposed to conclude,” he said.
“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 to get through the playoffs and conclude them,” he said.
MLB already has adopted one shortening rule for 2020: Each half of each extra inning starts with a runner on second base.
There were five extra-inning games during the first six days of the season. Four ended in 10 innings and one in 11.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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