In 2020, Major League Baseball initiated a rule that made all doubleheaders seven-inning games. The thinking was it would reduce injury and fatigue for players at a time when hospitals were overrun with Covid-19 patients. Shorter doubleheaders also make it easier for teams to travel if games are on getaway days.

With Covid-19 hopefully on the downturn thanks to vaccinations — although there are still knuckleheads who refuse to get their shots which is allowing this Delta variant to thrive — fans have now returned. MLB, however, has kept the seven-inning rule for twinbills.

Frankly, I have no problem with seven innings for traditional single-admission doubleheaders. The minor leagues have long utilized this concept. Nine-inning games have been dragging out for years. Nobody is happy about that. Streamlined doubleheaders increase the probability that fans who stay for the entirety will get home at a reasonable hour. From a consumer viewpoint, fans get a bargain as they see 14 innings instead of nine for the price of admission.

MLB has taken flak, however, for extending the seven-inning game rule for both parts of separate admission day-night doubleheaders, known as split doubleheaders, like the one the Mets had with the Milwaukee Brewers last Wednesday because Tuesday night’s game was postponed by rain. The Mets made Wednesday a split-admission affair because ace Jacob deGrom was scheduled to pitch Tuesday and they’d have to honor those tickets for the Wednesday matinee. As he always pitches before bigger-than-usual crowds, it saved the Mets from having to issue refunds by uncoupling the games. Since deGrom rarely goes nine innings, few would complain.

The problem is those with tickets for Wednesday’s scheduled game had to accept the abridged seven innings. As it turned out, the Mets sleepwalked their way through it, losing 5-0. Adding insult to injury, they couldn’t score with the bases loaded and no one out in the sixth inning as Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso all struck out. Maybe it was a good thing the game only went seven. Mets fans have watched enough painful baseball in recent years.

WFAN update anchor Mike McCann made a cogent analogy to me about fans getting ripped off by split-admission doubleheaders: “Could you imagine the outrage if Broadway musicals such as ‘Hamilton’ cut out a few musical numbers and/or a scene on Wednesdays when they have both matinee and evening performances?”

These days, ticket prices for games are comparable to Broadway productions. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred needs to restore split doubleheaders to the requisite nine innings.

See the extended version of Sports Beat every week at qchron.com.

Craig Allen and Irv “Mr. G” Gikofsky don’t have to worry about Mets owner Steve Cohen giving them competition in the world of meteorology. Early last Tuesday evening, Cohen tweeted his confidence the Brewers-Mets game would start at around 9 p.m. as he thought the deluge would stop by then. It didn’t. To his credit, Cohen had the Mets issue a $10 food voucher to fans for a future game. He should have done the same for those who attended the Brewers-Mets game the following night.

The All-Star break is giving a much-needed respite for Mets players. Long Island’s East End is a popular getaway spot this week. Outfielder Kevin Pillar is taking his family out to Montauk while Jeff McNeil and his wife were looking forward to spending a few days in the Hamptons. Pitcher Marcus Stroman, who grew up in Medford in central Suffolk County, told me he’d be returning to his childhood home for the break. Manager Luis Rojas was planning on taking his family to the Bronx Zoo and the Statue of Liberty. “I am hoping to catch some Broadway shows when our season is over and the theaters will have hopefully reopened,” he added.

The Mets’ offense went on vacation after the first inning Sunday as they scored five runs and then were shut out the rest of the game. Their opponents, the Pittsburgh Pirates, were able to maintain their focus as they chipped away at their deficit, and eventually won the game, 6-5. If the Pirates were a good team, they would have scored at least a dozen runs as Mets pitchers kept putting men on base in nearly every inning.

Former Mets catcher Anthony Recker continues to impress as a broadcaster. Last weekend he handled the color commentary for the SNY Mets telecasts as Ron Darling was away for his work on TBS and Keith Hernandez was recuperating from an injury to his big toe. Recker showed he wasn’t afraid to criticize a Mets player as he called out Luis Guillorme for stupid base-running. With the Mets up by a run in the seventh inning, Guillorme got caught off first base when Pirates third baseman Rodolfo Castro leaped in the air to snag Brandon Nimmo’s scorching line drive. Even if Castro failed to catch the ball, at best, Guillorme would have been at second base. There was no reason for him to be in a situation that was all risk and no reward.

Recker and play-by-play man Gary Cohen quickly established a rapport. The two had a lot of fun discussing 1980s heavy metal music. Recker admitted he was a big fan of AC/DC, Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne.

This past Saturday, ESPN’s annual awards show, the ESPYs, returned to New York City after all too many years out west. Normally, the ESPYs are a rather lighthearted affair but the events of the past year forced this year’s ceremony into a bit more serious tone. Examples were the airtime given to the uplifting story of 20-year-old Ironman Triathlon participant Chris Nikic, who has Down syndrome, and retired WNBA star Maya Moore, who has spent the last five years working on prison reform. Moore has been working to free convicts whom she believes have been victims of prosecutorial misconduct.

Actor Anthony Mackie was the host, and to say he bombed would be a massive understatement. Mackie may be a fine actor, but his monologue was horrible, and his forced laughter was quite irritating.

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