Let’s Play Two

Ernie Banks’s enthusiasm was contagious as Covid as he declared, “Let’s play two!”

Will the regularly scheduled doubleheader, the double-dip, ever make a comeback in Major League Baseball? Auguring this is a matter of time. Literally.

To produce a leaner product, MLB introduces a clock, decrees pick-off throws be limited, got the message that fashionable yet soul-sucking analytics’ shifts be banned, and for good measure threw in near pillow-sized bases to encourage between-pitches action.

Oh yes, via some seasons ago, fewer per-game “visits” (five) to the pitcher are authorized: MVR, standing for Mound Visits Remaining. And nagging at me is how pitchers’ ERA(s) (earned-run average[s]) are affected by the presence of ghost-runners. “Inherited” I imagine.

Benches now have ten seconds from an umpire’s call to request a video-review. These continue to slow the otherwise-quickened tempo.

Amidst the within-game sea change, each club now would also get a whack at every club over the course of 162 games: the good, the bad, and the wallydraigle. This is known as “a balanced schedule,” tho it’s really shapeless. And more travel. (See three paragraphs below.)

Private-airline food and travel-fatigue aside, from experience on the minor-leagues level it’s estimated the average nine-innings MLB game shall diet: from three hours and three minutes to two-and-a-half hours.

Welcome home, then, to the old-fashioned weekend-afternoon doubleheader? The weekday-twinight doubleheader? Such would no longer amount to a crushing eight-hours plus at the ballpark. Especially if kids are involved.

Players also would get a blow. The off-day following a Sunday doubleheader would ease extra-travel pressures deriving from fewer intra-division (divisions are predicated on geographic-rivalries) games—a number that’s dropped from nineteen to thirteen.

To repeat, vampiric analytics too, over our years, was sucking the life-blood from the game; extinguishing the scintillating, the spontaneity, the fun (oodles of money can produce and foster the same clumpy effect; joy cannot be monetized); reducing longevous, rococo-florid ballgames to the even worse predetermined outcome.

Time for le cordon sanitaire to boredom.

So put this in the time-to-cringe capsule: Texture was sacrificed on the altar of the spectral. “Put it in the books,” as Howie Rose might say. Put it behind…ossification and senility.

Now infielders’ athleticism would be on display. Batters would be forced not to overthink and return to purer hand-eye coordination. Pitchers would re-rely on muscle-memory rather than endless videos’ information from the clubhouse or, heaven forbid, tweeted from the bench.

And the Powers…are…thinking…of the Fans? Mere efts. A novel approach to the recessive-gene of fandom. Yet God forbid between-innings commercials be reduced or accelerated to meteor-speed. (They’d be MVP’d!)

Stubbornly reluctant to change compared to cricket, which has reinvented itself in many timely ways, baseball by its starchy, branchiopod standards is going all out to inject Banks’s ardor…even to schedule pack-a-windlestraw-lunch doubleheaders? To re-energize long-case clock fans, galvanize younger ones!

A novel approach to foreshadowing the past.

In the summer-rhythmic diurnality of baseball, wherein the rivalries and history of the world are played out in miniature, wherein followers debate and thrive in nostalgia on the modern-rare day off, we’ll play the regularly scheduled two too…yestermorrow.


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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