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June 17, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

I miss doubleheaders. I mean, real doubleheaders. Play a game, take half an hour off, play another game. It's a rare treat when the Yankees play one of those, much better than these day-night doubleheaders. Still, two games in one day is better than one.

In the 2000 season, the Yankees played the Mets in a day-night doubleheader, one at Shea, one at The Stadium. The evening game is of course remembered for what happened to Mike Piazza, but I've always thought the two park doubleheader was a fantastic idea, and one that should be scheduled every season with the Yankees & Mets, and the Cubs/Sox, Dodgers/Angels and Giants/A's if feasable. Maybe it's not feasable, and maybe the novelty will wear off after a couple of seasons, but when it does, you won't have offended your fan base by trying it.

That's the kind of thing Baseball should be trying to improve interest. Who the hell is going to be interested in a Devil Rays-Tigers game? But if it's a doubleheader--a real doubleheader--you'll likely more than double the attendance. Of course, the MLBPA will be opposed to this, because no player wants to play two games in one day. But if MLB were to give them more off days in exchange, they might come around.

Instead, MLB tries idiotic things. They expand the playoffs, eliminating pennant races between great teams to create pennant races between lesser teams. They turn the leagues into conferences in all but name, and start interleague play, making schedules unbalanced, destroying the last real appeal of the All-Star Game. They then try to make people interested in the All-Star Game by giving home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the exhibition, which will almost certainly have no effect on interest, but an effect on the outcome of the championship. And, of course, they've forced several work stoppages by trying to get the MLBPA to accept massive restraints on their salaries, costing them millions of fans.

Time and again they've tried to fix percieved problems with drastic changes, gaining a short-term benefit at the expense of offending their most loyal fans. It's all about money with MLB, and they want it now, not later. And so, they destroy their future to gain the most benefit out of their present.

And that's why the Yankees lost the first game today.

Okay, it isn't, but I had to segue back to the game somehow. I didn't watch most of the game because I had to work until 3:30, but it looked to me like it was a pathetic effort. Only two hits until the ninth inning (oh, by the way, was it just me, or did Jim Kaat actually say that Derek Jeter would have turned the ball up the middle that Lugo didn't reach into a double play? Has he been paying attention to Jeter the last three seasons?). Matsui did get another hit, Giambi did get another Home Run, Soriano did get another 0-4. Weaver only walked one, but he only struck out one and gave up two homers. Not really much to cheer about.

When the heck is this team going to start playing with any consistency? Do they really need Bernie and Nick back that badly? Good God, you'd think that they'd have enough talent to beat the Devil Rays without those two. Yes, Boomer's pitching tonight, so they've got a great chance to win, but should we really be depending on our pitchers to hold them down? Jeremi Gonzalez has a 3.00 ERA, but his DIPS ERA is 4.70--he's has a .200 BABIP against, so he's been a bit hit lucky, to say the least. The Yankees should really have pounded him.

Well, at least the Mahnken Jinx is kaput, so I can post on Primer again. All I have to do now is come up with something worth saying.