Mike McCann / Minor Leagues
APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY DOUBLEHEADERS
By Mike McCann
I don't know how the weather is where you are, but in the northeastern portion of the United States, the weather in April can be very unpredictable. One of the bigger problems isn't the rain, it is the snow. If it rains, a game gets postponed and you can play a doubleheader the next day. No big deal. But if it snows, it takes a few days for the snow to melt. And even after that, the field will probably not be in playing condition. Needless to say, this causes big problems.
Many teams have had a number of games rained out or snowed out so far. Trying to make up so many games has become a problem for some teams. When teams are not able to play an entire series, they have difficulty rescheduling games. There have been many cases where the game must be played at the location of the visiting team. I found it amusing to read how a game involving Toledo and Richmond, which was originally scheduled to be played in Richmond and made up as a doubleheader in Toledo, would have Toledo wearing their visiting uniforms for the first game and home uniforms for the second.
This season Portland, Trenton, Battle Creek and Lansing all had their first 7 games postponed. If I was getting paid or had a staff working for me or something, this is where I'd say what the record for postponed games at the beginning of a season was. But since I do this for fun and don't know the answer, I can't tell you. I can definitely say that there have been a larger than average number of postponements this year. The New Britain Rock Cats only had one home opening before April 23.
Personally, I enjoy seeing doubleheaders, so I really can't complain too much. A two for one deal is always good. Keep in mind that minor league doubleheaders are only 7 innings each. But you can still see 14 innings for the price of 9. So it's closer to a one and a half for one deal, but still pretty good. Another thing which I find interesting is that minor league baseball and major league baseball have different rules for when a game must be stopped in the middle due to rain. In the majors, the game is started over and a different time. In the minors, they will pick up where they left off. This will often lead to the completion of the 9 inning game followed by a 7 inning game. Personally, I think that it makes more sense to continue where the game was rather than pretend the game never happened. This is the scenario that kept Bobby Bonds from entering the 40/40 club in 1973. He had a home run taken away from him that year because it started raining before the 5th inning. I still don't quite understand that one.
It also makes things interesting later on in the season in that you may get an unexpected doubleheader. Teams try their best to play a full schedule, so they make up as many games as they can. Many times when teams play a doubleheader, they will just start the game an hour earlier than originally scheduled. Other times, a night game can become two day games. And I can tell you from personal experience that it isn't very fun to walk into a stadium thinking you are early, yet the game has already started. There are also the teams that like the day-night doubleheader idea. Teams like this idea because it means they aren't losing money on admission for the postponed game. They make everyone leave after the first game so that they can charge people again to see the second one.
Another benefit of seeing minor league doubleheaders is that you are more likely to see a no-hitter. Unfortunately, I have not been lucky enough to witness one of these. A seven inning no-hitter does still count since it is an official game. I do make an effort to search out doubleheaders because of these added benefits, and I encourage you to do the same.
I am always looking for topics to write about, so please send me an email and let me know what would be interesting reading for you. Feel free to ask any questions or give an idea for a column.