Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Let's Play Two!" -- As Long As It's A Makeup, And Day/Night

I am purposely writing this on a Sunday, because today I talk about doubleheaders.

Remember those?

It's appropriate to get into a rant about DHs -- and not THOSE DHs -- on Sunday, because that's when most of them used to be played.

I know the labor agreement pretty much forbids them -- unless for makeup dates -- so my protests are pretty much like expectorating into a summer breeze. Still, this is a baseball blog, and today the subject is doubleheaders -- so there!

I was a baseball child of the 70's -- having been born in 1963 -- and every year that I got my handy-dandy, pocket-sized, tri-folded Tigers schedule from some local retail outlet that had them neatly placed on the counter by the cash register, I looked for the orange blocks (road game blocks were white) that had "DH" listed beneath the Tigers' opponents' names. We rarely attended DHs when I was a kid, but I still wanted to know when they were scheduled. As if I had to clear my busy, pre-adolescent calendar or something.

If you were lucky, you also saw THIS lovely abbreviation on the schedule: "TN". That meant a twi-night doubleheader, and I can already sense I'm losing readers under the age of 30 here. But a TNDH rocked. It meant a game at 5:30 or 6:00 in the evening, followed immediately by another game. And they were actually on the schedule that way!

Today, even when a rainout or some other calamity requires a makeup DH, the owners employ that money-grubbing thing called a "day/night doubleheader." This is exactly what it indicates: a game in the day, another game that night -- or however long it takes to clear the stadium so another crowd of paying customers can come in and buy hot dogs and beer. Let's face it: a day/night DH is a way for the owners to avoid offering two games for the price of one, like the old-time DHs. Forget the fact that ticket prices are now more than twice that of the days when DHs were scheduled.

Typically, baseball DHs were scheduled on Sunday afternoons, save the TNs. In fact, in pre-1970's baseball, you could almost count on a Sunday doubleheader; it was just accepted. Then clubs started sprinkling the TNs in there after everyone had stadium lights installed.

We rarely went out of our way to attend DHs, because my folks' mantra was, "That's a LOT of baseball." Of course, my mantra volleyed back was, "Yeah -- and your point is...?"

But I did manage to get to a DH here and there -- whether from coming upon free tickets or cajoling my folks into a TN. And yes -- it WAS a lot of baseball. But you were getting a two-fer, basically, so who cares if you left a tad early or arrived a little late?

We'll never see the return of the DH to the baseball schedule -- pre-determined DHs, that is -- I am sad to acknowledge. They look to have gone the way of another viewing pleasure: the drive-in movie.

Hey, how about opening a drive-in where you can watch televised DHs in your car?

You'd go to such a place, wouldn't you?


Blogger Ian C. said...

Oh man, I love doubleheaders. Some of my favorite baseball memories are of attending twi-night doubleheaders. And those nights never felt like six hours of baseball.

You're right; those days are over. But it would be so fun to have at least one of those a year, just to let fans plunge themselves into baseball for one evening.

8:40 AM  

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