MLB has one of its teams playing in a minor league park because of COVID-19. It adopted a pair of minor league rules before the season to aid in scheduling and speed up games amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now something else is being pulled from the bush leagues to get baseball through the next two months.
Passan reported that the MLB Players Association initiated the revision, with executive director Tony Clark suggesting it to MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem as the first doubleheader of the season — a makeup twinbill between the White Sox and Cleveland — was being played Tuesday. Players and teams were then surveyed about the possibility.
Shortened doubleheaders are a response to baseball’s growing scheduling challenges. Series this week in Miami, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore were postponed for safety reasons after half the Marlins’ traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 following a weekend trip to Philly. One of the postponed series involves the Blue Jays, whose home park this season will be in Buffalo, N.Y., the home of their Triple-A affiliate, after they were denied permission by the Canadian government to play in Toronto.
MLB will be looking to make up all of its postponements this season within a tight scheduling window (teams are scheduled to play 60 games in 66 days), which means doubleheaders will be necessary. Baseball also desires to keep players’ time in stadiums at a minimum: The Chicago-Cleveland twinbill took 6 hours, 48 minutes to complete; it began at 3:41 p.m. ET and ended at 10:29 p.m. with the conclusion of Game 2. That doesn’t include the time the teams spent at Progressive Field preparing for game.
Teams and players agreed before Opening Day to two other rule tweaks that have their roots in the minors. Games that are called before they’re official will be resumed at the point of postponement rather than be made up from the beginning, and extra innings will begin with a runner on second base and no one out.