Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins looks on during spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2019.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

If Major League Baseball needs to squeeze more games into a condensed season without exhausting pitching staffs, perhaps this idea could get tossed into play: seven-inning doubleheaders.

“Maybe that’s something we have to consider,” Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a conference call Wednesday.

Opening day has been postponed until at least mid-May because of the new coronavirus pandemic. The regular season had been scheduled to begin Thursday.

Story continues below advertisement

Minor-league teams and college teams typically play seven innings in each game of a doubleheader. But twinbills are rarely planned in the majors – only a handful were originally scheduled over the past decade.

The final total of big-league doubleheaders, most of them caused by makeup games, ranged from a low of 14 in 2014 to a high of 34 in both 2011 and 2018, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black said last week that frequent doubleheaders might be necessary to help fit more games into a shorter window.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he would be open to considering seven-inning games in doubleheaders. He said averaging eight or nine games a week would require a couple more roster spots above the current 26, with at least 14 pitchers.

Extending play into November could lead to neutral-site games in warm weather cities and ballparks with roofs.

“It is an opportunity probably to be creative or to try some things that people think could stick a little bit or could be kind of a segue to something different down the line,” Boone said on a conference call Wednesday. “But it’s certainly probably an opportunity to try some things that you wouldn’t otherwise try in a normal 162-game setting where everything’s kind of going off according to plan.”

The math: By averaging nine games a week, a team could play 162 games in 18 weeks, eight fewer than usual. That means MLB could start as late as July and play a full schedule by extending the regular season through October.

Story continues below advertisement

Atkins pitched in Cleveland’s minor-league system for five seasons before becoming that team’s assistant director of player development. He was hired as Toronto’s GM in December, 2015.

Asked what he saw as potential solutions to scheduling issues, Atkins mentioned shorter games in doubleheaders. Still, he isn’t entirely sold on the idea of seven-inning games.

“You’re not playing the game that is written in the rule books,” he said. “It’s not the regulation game, it’s a different game. Bullpens and teams are built in a way to play nine innings. I’m sure there are people that would challenge that and I’m not so sure it’s something we should do.”

No matter how many innings get played, the likelihood of a condensed schedule will require greater roster flexibility once baseball resumes, Atkins said.

“If you’re playing multiple doubleheaders, and suppose they are nine innings each, the demands on a pitching staff would be extremely significant,” he said.

Atkins declined to say how many games he thinks would be necessary this season, acknowledging the complexity of the issue.

Story continues below advertisement

“Decreasing the number of games isn’t just about record books,” he said. “It’s more complicated than that because of compensation reasons, because of how rosters were built and the resources that were poured into the planning to get where we are today.

“It’s not just as simple as ‘Okay, we have this number of days, let’s play this number of games and call it a year,’ "he said.

Atkins said baseball must take a collaborative approach to finding solutions to scheduling problems.

“What we need to do is get ideas out where people feel safe mentioning them and then work through what’s practical, what makes sense, what are the downsides, because there’s going to be downsides, and try to weigh those appropriately,” Atkins said.

“Get all of those ideas on the table and then sort through the execution of them and think about the unintended consequences and come up with a game plan that we can put in play,” he said.

Isolated at home in Toronto after returning from spring training in Dunedin, Fla., Atkins and his staff remain focused on evaluating amateur players as best they can. The Blue Jays hold the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft.

Story continues below advertisement

Even with college and high school games shut down, Atkins said the Blue Jays will be ready for the draft as soon as it happens.

“We feel that we could get prepared in a short period of time based on the information that we have and be very competitive,” he said.

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said it’s too soon to make determinations.

“There’s been lot of things thrown out there. I mean, goodness gracious, everybody comes up with what could happen, might happen, should happen,” he said. “I think the easiest way for me is just let it ride itself out, and eventually they’re going to come up with a plan and tell us.”

“I’m currently negotiating with Al on my contract, that I only do one game a day,” Gardenhire joked, referring to Detroit GM Al Avila. “If you’re going to play a ton of doubleheaders, there’s got to be roster decisions.”

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies