Wading through all the words from both sides after the postponement of Friday night's game, and the impact on Yankees fans who were hoping to see Derek Jeter get his 3,000th career hit at home this weekend, produced this immutable fact:
Yes, the vote in the Yankees' clubhouse was to play a split doubleheader and the Rays voted against it, causing some irritation, to say the least, on the part of the Yankees' hierarchy. But as general manager Brian Cashman freely admitted, nothing prohibited a straight doubleheader other than the bottom line.
Which is money. "Gate," Cashman said with a shrug. "We're not interested in going from 81 home games to 80."
A sellout crowd of 47,787 watched Jeter go 1-for-5 Thursday night, bringing him to 2,998 hits. Sellouts were expected for the remaining three games, now reduced to two. On Saturday, A.J. Burnett faces David Price, against whom Jeter is 6-for-25 (.240), and Sunday, CC Sabathia takes on James Shields, against whom Jeter is 17-for-54 (.315).
Under terms of the Basic Agreement, a straight doubleheader could have been scheduled Saturday without the Rays' input. In some cases, a split doubleheader also could have been imposed, but the Rays already have two splits on the schedule (they played one April 28 in Minnesota and will play another Aug. 16 in Boston). As part of the Basic Agreement, once a team has two split doubleheaders scheduled, it has the right to block a third, a right the Rays invoked Friday.
Ultimately, the players' union must approve a split doubleheader. Because the teams couldn't agree, the union didn't approve one for Saturday.
The Rays' "no'' vote had Yankees executives privately angry and publicly attempting to mask that emotion.
"Why Tampa voted no, you gotta ask Tampa," Yankees president Randy Levine said. "I haven't the foggiest idea. I just don't know. I feel bad, Hal Steinbrenner, we all feel very bad for people who bought tickets for tonight, and we tried to do everything we could to get it tomorrow night."
Did the vote make him angry? "It's not a question of anger or not anger," Levine said. "I just feel bad for all of these fans. We can only do what we can do."
Rays player rep Evan Longoria echoed what Yankees manager Joe Girardi, his players and what just about everyone in baseball says about doubleheaders: They're physically demanding and rarely a preference.
"In my eyes, just knowing the way things work, I think if they wanted it, they would've made things happen," Longoria said, perhaps a reference to the straight doubleheader option. "A doubleheader just beats everybody up. It's tough to play a doubleheader. Especially in this stadium. One game is mentally draining enough. To play two and try to win two games is really tough."
Yankees player rep Curtis Granderson met with Longoria and Allyne Price, who works in player relations for the Players Association. Granderson said the feeling in the Yankees' clubhouse was that with the three-day All-Star break upcoming, a doubleheader Saturday was the way to go.
Additionally, the Yankees already have lost one day off in the season's second half, Sept. 19, when they'll make up an April 6 rainout against the Twins. The Yankees also have split doubleheaders July 30 against the Orioles at the Stadium and Aug. 27 against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"We didn't want to lose any off days in September because we figured that will be the most crucial part of the season," Granderson said. "The off days are few and far between, so we were hoping we could get it in tomorrow, but unfortunately, both sides weren't able to agree on that."
Longoria said Jeter will get his historic hit soon enough. "We feel for his situation," Longoria said. "The guy's going for 3,000 hits. It's not like he's never going to get another hit again. He's got 2,997, or whatever he's got. He's going to get another hit at some point or another. The consideration was just what's best for our club."
With Ken Davidoff