Two games for the price of one? No thanks

Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4,

Because of Friday's rainout, the Yankees will host the Pirates Sunday in a rare single-admission Sunday doubleheader -- the first in the Bronx since April 13, 1997.

It's also the first single-admission doubleheader the Yankees have hosted on any day of the week in nearly 10 years.

You know the reason: money. Teams don't want fans getting two games for the price of one. Single-admission doubleheaders are a romantic notion from baseball's past, but they can cost teams big bucks (or "revenue," as teams nowadays call your forked-over cash).

The single-admission doubleheader has gone the way of the dodo, bell-bottom pants and complete games. To the dustbin of history, replaced by the day/night, two-admission, nothing-in-life-is-free doubleheader.

And to that, we say: Thank goodness. The day/nighter is the better option for Sunday's fans.

Sure, some people will sit through six or seven hours (or more) of baseball today. But it's more likely that most of the 40,000 or so people will attend the 1 p.m. game as originally planned and then head home well before the end of the nightcap. Perhaps before the start, too.

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And if you're bringing little kids? Try to get them to sit through one game, let alone two.

"Free" baseball isn't really free if it costs you time, money and brain cells. Seven hours of $12 beers? Seven hours of hot dogs? Yikes.

Baseball is a great game, but no one needs that much of it.

Better to have 40,000 people come and go during the day and another unknown number of fans come for a night game (though 7 p.m., please, not 8.)

Another factor: Folks who bought tickets for Friday's rainout are not automatically allowed into Sunday's doubleheader; they have to exchange the tickets for another game, subject to availability.

Wouldn't they have been better off if there had been a single extra game Saturday or Sunday for which their rain check would be automatically honored? If they can't come, then make the exchange for another day.

If the Yankees could have scheduled a day/night doubleheader for Saturday or Sunday, trust us, they would have.

But general manager Brian Cashman laid out the many roadblocks that scuttled those possibilities, starting with Saturday's exclusive Fox and Sunday night's's exclusive ESPN TV windows.

"Normally, you'd look to do a split," Cashman said. "But you can't do a 10:30 in the morning/4:00 evening or a 4:00 evening/10:30 at night second game. [Sunday] is an ESPN Sunday night window that you can't get into."

The Pirates and Yankees are both off Monday. How about a make-up game then? Said Cashman: "We can do it. The Pirates, that's not something that's good for them because it violates a couple different rules. It's like a perfect storm. It kind of forced us to do a regular doubleheader for Sunday."

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The Sunday doubleheader is such a part of baseball lore that you'd think Norman Rockwell based all of his "Saturday Evening Post" covers on it. But not everyone was so entranced and the practice ultimately died out.

"I can't speak to it," Cashman said. "I grew up in Kentucky. I was a good 85 miles from Cincinnati. That experience was foreign to me."

Two-admission doubleheaders are seen as a modern scourge. But in fact the first one took place on July 4, 1881 -- yes, 1881 -- when Buffalo and Detroit played separate morning and afternoon games of what was then called "base ball."

That's according to the simply and elegantly titled 2011 book, "Doubleheaders," by Charlie Bevis, which tells us the first day/night, two-admission doubleheader took place between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on Aug. 14, 1946.

"The powers-that-be in Brooklyn," The New York Times wrote, according to Bevis, "scheduled one of those newfangled doubleheaders for today, except that one of the games will be played at 2:30 in the afternoon and the other at 8:30 at night. Of course, two separate admissions will be charged."

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Bevis reports that doubleheader was a hit, with a then single-day Brooklyn record of 57,224 attending the games.

The first game took 2:47. The second 2:30. If that happens Sunday, then by all means stay for both games. But don't count on it.

Let's play two?

Sorry, Ernie Banks. Not in a row. Not anymore.

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