'I Prefer Nine and Nine': Yankees Reflect on MLB's Installment of Seven-Inning Doubleheaders

Max Goodman

Major League Baseball made an announcement on Friday, confirming reports that seven-inning games will be played this season during doubleheaders.

Based on veteran reliever Adam Ottavino's reaction to rumors of this plan a few days prior, it's safe to say the right-hander wasn't thrilled when he heard the news.

"I like nine and nine personally," Ottavino said on Wednesday. "I don't want to be marginalized out of the game, once we go seven inning games, it's a slippery slope there and maybe there's no more relief pitchers or something like that."

In its announcement, MLB explained that the new rule — which will take effect on Saturday — has been put into place "given the frequency of doubleheaders, the effects of doubleheaders on rosters, and the need to reschedule games due to dynamic circumstances."

With COVID-19 still impacting several clubhouses across the league, games being postponed at a moment's notice due to a positive coronavirus test has become, in a sense, the norm this season.

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It's something the Yankees are already familiar with. 

New York was scheduled to take on the Phillies on the road this week, but instead was cooped up in the team's hotel in Philadelphia after the Miami Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak. MLB postponed both Yankees-Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park as a precaution after the Marlins used the visitor's clubhouse in the days prior to the Yankees' arrival. 

Once the Bombers' home series against the Phillies was postponed as well, New York switched plans to go play in Baltimore, subsequently reshaping the club's schedule for the following week. Now — and this is subject to change — New York has four games to play against the Rays in Tampa Bay over three days this coming weekend.

With that in mind, manager Aaron Boone supports the decision to shorten doubleheaders, echoing MLB's reasoning. 

"I think there's some wisdom to that and some merit to it for this year because those situations are now going to arise," Boone explained. "As we see teams having to postpone games and stuff ... I think it's wise to probably shorten things even though it wouldn't be how you would draw it up normally."

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This won't be the first change that New York and the rest of the league will be adjusting to this summer. 

An expanded postseason gives no reward to the clubs that win their division — something that Gerrit Cole called "less than ideal." And who can forget the extra-innings rule that puts a runner on second base to start every inning past regulation.

In seven-inning doubleheaders, the extra-innings rule will go into effect in the eighth frame and beyond. 

Ottavino wasn't a fan of that installment either — something the Yankees have yet to experience over the first six games of the regular season — explaining that it's "not real baseball."

Criticisms aside, Ottavino has come to grips with the changes. He's in what he called "adapt mode," constantly adjusting to new challenges during this unprecedented season.

It might not be what all ballplayers prefer, but if it lessens injuries and limits the amount of time all personnel involved could be susceptible to contracting COVID-19, then it's simply what has to happen this season.

After all, at least everyone is in the same boat.

"We're all under the same thing and everyone's gotta deal with it and in their own way," Boone said. "If and when we have to play doubleheaders, we'll do our best to make the most of those new situations."

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