There is nothing in baseball quite like a proper doubleheader. One shows up to the park before teatime with a second scorecard and a large hamper in preparation for 18 innings of baseball spread out over seven hours — and that’s not even getting into the breathlessly exciting possibility of extra innings.
It is one of the best value-for-money deals in any sport on the planet, and a treasured rarity. I have long been not only glad, but actually proud that the Kansas City Royals were one of the only teams to carry on this custom.
But unfortunately, that era may be over.
After the rainout on this past Friday, the Royals announced that the game would be made up as part of a day/night double header on the following Sunday. No glorious afternoon spent watching one’s team play twice, but simply two entirely separate games that happened to be played on the same day. How utterly dull.
The Royals could hardly have picked a worse time as well. Sunday was the nicest day of the year in Kansas City, a stunning 24 degrees and sunny. Few would have had work or school commitments and the excitement of seeing the first-place Royals play would have ensured a good crowd.
But instead, for the first time ever, the Royals played a split doubleheader. I fear it will not be the last, but it should be.
The Royals need money, I understand that, and I suspect they were told by the accountants that it would be better financially to hold two separate games. Although the traditional doubleheaders tend to draw very well (I have known them to regularly bring in 30,000), there were 41,000 people over the two games to be played (how much it costs to clear out the stadium is another matter).
So many teams are moving away from catering to — or even caring about — the fans recently, and one of the best aspects of the Royals was that they did not do that. If they too are moving away from the proper twin-bill, then it is a sad day.
The large-market clubs, the ones who think they need a payroll of $150 million to compete and who are reliant on filling or nearly filling the ground every game will always go for the quick money. It is therefore the job of the smaller market clubs to maintain the best of baseball and to continue to show the fans that they are important as something other than mere numbers on an accountants’ spreadsheet.
The Royals will always be a smaller club; it is imperative that they act like it and give up this foolish attempt to mimic the larger clubs.