This is a fair warning for baseball traditionalists: If you’ve grumbled about new rules in baseball this season, prepare to grumble more this weekend.
The players’ association is surveying members and Major League Baseball is seeing what owners think about a rule change that would allow for doubleheaders with two seven-inning games to make up lost games caused by the coronavirus outbreak on the Marlins’ roster. Another possibility: Doubleheaders with a nine- and seven-inning game.
The two sides want to make a decision by Saturday.
The shortened season’s schedule had teams playing 60 games in 66 days when the season started July 23 in Washington. But when nearly the entire Marlins team was saddled with positive COVID-19 tests last weekend, schedules for teams in the East became a confusing mess.
The Marlins’ infected players have been marooned in a Philadelphia hotel since Sunday, and who knows when they will play again?
The Marlins and Orioles were supposed to play two games this week in Miami, then two more in Baltimore. Instead, the Orioles started their Camden Yards season versus the Yankees.
To make matters worse, hurricane season has begun and South Florida is expected to get hit with heavy rain and high-speed winds this weekend as Tropical Storm Isaias skirts the East Coast.
The Nationals’ schedule had them playing in Miami this weekend, so instead of that, they’ll have the weekend plus Monday, a day off in the original schedule, without a game.
Philadelphia hasn’t played since Sunday, and their doubleheader Saturday against the Blue Jays has been postponed. Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia has been closed, so the Phillies haven’t been able to work out. Their Sunday game against Toronto is still on. They are scheduled for an off-day Monday and are supposed to start a three-game series in Miami Tuesday.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told The Inquirer in Philadelphia that two of the team’s starters - Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin - haven’t been able to take their first turn in the rotation this season.
The Blue Jays will play most of their home games at their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo because the Canadian government wouldn’t let them play in Rogers Centre, saying there is too much danger in spreading the coronavirus.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said this season is about adjustments and flexibility.
“We will do what the league tells us to do,’’ Hyde told reporters via Zoom.
The season that started four months late already has some wrinkles that make traditionalists cringe. The National League is using the designated hitter, and there is an automatic runner put on second base to start each half inning of extra-inning games.
Plus, the number of teams qualifying for the postseason has gone from 10 to 16, almost assuring that a team with a non-winning record has a chance to make the World Series.
Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottovino understands the reasoning for two seven-inning games in doubleheaders, but he hopes it isn’t a slippery slope:
“I don’t want to be marginalized out of the game,” he said. “Once we go seven innings, it’s a slippery slope and there are no more relief pitchers or something like that.’‘
Angels manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t think the rule change is necessary because of the season is set up.
“I would like to have it as a contingency plan,’’ Maddon told reporters via Zoom.
That might work out West, but the coronavirus has changed the landscape in the East.