This is not, in any conceivable way, a normal baseball season. We all know this, and it has been a constant reminder since the season got underway with more news on positive COVID tests around the league coming seemingly every morning. The Marlins had more than half their active roster test positive. The Phillies, who played the Marlins last weekend, just had a coach and clubhouse attendant test positive. That puts two teams on shutdown at least through this weekend. Their shutdown also affects other teams, and somehow these games are going to have to be made up. The league also has to plan for these kinds of situations showing up elsewhere as the year goes on, too. So, they’ve implemented another rule change that everyone is going to hate: All doubleheaders will feature two seven-inning games starting on Saturday, August 1.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to stage seven-inning doubleheaders starting Aug. 1, sources familiar with the situation tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 30, 2020
This is already not being well received and I suspect today is going to be filled with people speaking up against this change as well. And I certainly don’t blame people. This is the most fundamental change the league has made to the game this year amid all of their other rules changes. You don’t have to be a traditionalist to think all games should be nine innings. The reason for the change is that the league is anticipating a lot of doubleheaders with the positive COVID tests — and of course rain doesn’t just go away this year, either — and so this is a way to keep pitchers fresh. I think it would make more sense to expand the rosters a bit more for doubleheaders — and Ken Rosenthal reported during the Red Sox-Mets game on Thursday that the league could extend the time for teams to carry 30-man rosters — but the idea that pitchers need to be considered here is fair.
So, yeah, I don’t like this. I wish they could have found a different way to deal with this, which again is a legitimate concern. That being said, I’m at the point where I really can’t get worked up about anything that happens this season. Seven-inning games? Whatever. Runner on second to start extra innings? No idea how that actually helps anything but you do you. Three-batter minimum? I actually kind of like that one. Universal DH? You go, MLB. Expanded playoffs? Whatevs.
My issue with this doubleheader is the same that I had with the expanded playoffs. Namely, I’m worried this isn’t going away. Once a rule is introduced, it’s hard to get rid of it. I’m holding out a little bit of hope that this really is just a wacky year and we’ll be able to put some of these ideas back in the box when things go back to normal, whenever that may be. I’m not super optimistic, though.