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Friday 28th Apr 2017

This title will not be understood by any reader under 35, but that is ok, as this isn’t about Wrigley’s gum, or even the Cubs, for that matter. It is about two baseball games played in one day.

Sometimes, the good can come from the bad. Monday afternoon in New York brought heavy rain and thunderstorms, which ultimately postponed the St. Louis Cardinals at Mets game scheduled for that evening.

To their credit, the New Yorkers made a quick decision to bag the game – instead of letting it drag on for hours as some clubs have been known to do. It was a pleasant surprise.

That meant a better night’s sleep for everyone on Monday into Tuesday, especially welcome to a Cardinals team that had travel difficulties after a poorly-scheduled Sunday night ESPN game, not reaching their hotel until after sunrise.

The Mets’ decision to schedule a twin bill the next day was an absolute delight for many reasons. Not only had the bad weather passed, but the club made a call that was not financially-driven, essentially giving up the ticket revenue from a home date.

The Tuesday doubleheader would be a single-admission event – one ticket good for 18 innings of Major League Baseball with a late afternoon start. Those who held Monday tickets would receive a refund, so there were nothing but winners. Even better, there was just 35 minutes between the two contests.

Interestingly, it was the second twin bill for the Cardinals in just one week – coincidentally timed with each of Carlos Martinez’ last two outings. St. Louis handled its home doubleheader differently, adding a split day game with the tickets from the rained out Tuesday contest reused last Wednesday afternoon. As you might imagine, the stands were mostly empty for the newly-added 1 PM matinee contest.

To their credit, the Cardinals allowed all fans, regardless of where their assigned seats were located, to move down to the prime lower-deck seating behind home plate. Further, the club gave two future ticket vouchers to each fan with a ticket to the rained out game. Again, nothing but winners.

I basked in the Tuesday event, with the Citi Field pressbox windows wide open, offering the sights and sounds of being in the stands, backed by air conditioning, welcome in the 90-plus degree heat.

During the contest, as usual, I was monitoring Twitter, as that seems the best way to keep on top of any breaking news these days. I could not help but notice the many tweets from industry peers sharing results of their fantasy football mock drafts and debating player values.

To be honest, I did my very best to completely ignore it.

Some years ago now, our Lord Zola recruited me to join an existing football keeper league whose members are industry writers and analysts. As part of my introduction, Todd characterized me as “a baseball guy.” At the time that bothered me, as I preferred to be known as a baseball and football guy.

Now, I can admit that Todd was right. I was enjoying this unexpected doubleheader immensely, and could not care anything about all of that football talk. Perhaps when exhibition games get going, I will start paying attention.

As the day turned into evening, I left my laptop with all that football talk and my impending article deadlines within it behind and ventured out to sit in the little tiered balcony section in front of the pressbox. Since being at the Arizona Fall League last fall, it was the first time I sat in the stands in 2016 as if I was a fan.

It was great! I am so thankful that I am at a point in my life that I can watch baseball games any time I choose.

Though I admit I took my phone with me so I could monitor my e-mails, as I was working on a pair of trades at the time in National League LABR and was anxious to get them done. (Hopefully, I will have more on that next week.)

In the games, there were oddities, fitting for the rare occasion of the doubleheader. First of all, who would have thought the Cardinals could have chased Noah Syndergaard in the opener, yet be flummoxed by 43-year-old Bartolo Colon in the nightcap?

As they say, that is why they play the games.

Despite Colon’s mastery, one player had his way with both Mets starters. Infielder Jedd Gyorko homered in each of the two games. In doing so, he became the first St. Louis hitter to go deep in both ends of a doubleheader twice in one season – since Hall of Famer Stan Musial in 1949.

The other twin bill in which Gyorko starred? It was against his former San Diego teammates in St. Louis the very week before. Such wonderful symmetry!

The Mets media notes were chock full of interesting factoids about doubleheaders. The common thread was that most every record in such games was set a very long time ago. In a way, that is deceiving, since regularly-scheduled twin bills are a thing of the past. Ownership doesn’t like them for the gate revenue lost and pampered players don’t like them, either.

As one Cardinals regular told me before the doubleheader, “18 innings of baseball is no joke.” Even with having very little sleep the night before, this player would have preferred to play Monday night instead of two contests on Tuesday. But thankfully, it wasn’t his choice and he ended up in the lineup for only one of the two games, anyway.

As already noted, today’s schedules include no twin bills. For fun, I went back and looked at St. Louis’ 1949 game log. The odds were heavily weighted in Musial’s direction. The great one had 13 chances to hit his pair of doubleheader home runs that season, while Gyorko, who will never be confused for Musial, has gone a much more impressive 2-for-2 in his twin bill appearances so far here in 2016.

And in further recognition of his long ball prowess, Gyorko has an impressive 14 of them in just 194 at-bats to date in his first season with St. Louis.

If I was making up the schedule, which we all know will never, ever happen, Gyorko would get 13 chances to hit home runs in each game of a doubleheader every year – just like “The Man”.

Long live the twin bill!

 

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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