Columns/Opinion, Joe Smith, Local Sports

Doubleheaders make for a long day at the ballpark

MORGANTOWN — There are a couple things you should probably know before delving into this piece.
My colleague Sean Manning is an avid baseball fan. I, on the other hand, am not.
Just the other day, we were discussing a common occurrence in the world of baseball and softball: Teams playing two games on a single day in front of the same crowd, also known as a doubleheader.
“They’re a beautiful thing,” Sean said. “Unless you have to cover them.”
I may be alone in this opinion, and I am most certainly biased — baseball will never show up in a list of my top five sports — but I shudder when I see a doubleheader on the schedule.
For me, 14 innings of high school baseball or softball is just too much — especially considering the pace of the game. It’s not uncommon to see a seven-inning contest run 1 1/2 to 2 hours if it goes full-length.
Add on a break after the opening match-up, and then the nightcap, and you’re looking at 14 innings and a potential four hours of baseball.
It’s a question I’ve begged of many coaches, fans and sportswriters alike. Who needs four hours of a single high-school sport?
The struggle becomes more real when the games take place in college, where the game pace is slower, or in the majors, where such an event becomes an all-day affair.
I truly pity the media outlets sent to cover the doubleheader MLB contest between the Pirates and Tigers on Wednesday evening. I could be the biggest baseball fan in the world and eight hours straight would be a pill.
The time constraints can even interfere with finishing all the tasks at hand on the job. Just last week, I was saving a WVU golf article to write after a University/Oak Glen softball doubleheader.
After the near five hours it took to finish both games and grab post-game interviews, I barely had time to finish the game article before deadline, so I had to hold golf for the next day.
Of course, I understand the necessity of the classic doubleheader — especially in West Virginia.
As a former spring-sport athlete in both high school and college, I dealt with Appalachia’s temperamental springs and the devastating effects the weather can have on a sports season.
The spring season is short enough as is around here, with doubleheaders used to help fit in enough games before Mother Nature decides to throw another curveball at us.
With the varying temperatures from below freezing to scorching heat mixed with a rainy season that as of late resembles a November in Singapore, doubleheaders can be the only way to complete the regular season while playing more than 10-15 games.
That being said, I’d be fine if doubleheaders took a backseat in the future. I know it’s not a feasible wish, and I get why they exist. Quite frankly, we wouldn’t have much of a season without them.
But boy, do they make my job difficult.