Double Headers: Day-Night or Back to Back, Which Is Better?

Stephen NoffkeContributor IApril 28, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 24: Fans tailgate in the parking lot before the Chicago White Sox take on the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field June 24, 2005 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Today the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners are competing in an event that has become rare.

The two teams will be playing a back to back doubleheader with game two starting 30 minutes after game one. I know I have heard a lot of people complain that this doesn’t happen as much as it should anymore, and that doubleheaders are a great part of the sport.

I also have heard about some of my friends and talking heads on the radio and TV complaining about how long back to back doubleheaders are and how they didn’t stay for all of the games. So which side is right on the debate; day night or back to back?

Well let’s take a look a the pros and cons of each.

The number one reason a team elects to do a day-night doubleheader is cash. The day—night double header allows two games to be played in one day with the team still receiving two gates worth of cash. This is not possible in a back to back game since all the fans remain in the ball park during the break.

Along with the gate, some of the fans won’t go to both the day and night games. This means that a whole new group of people will be coming into the stadium to buy merchandise and food from stadium vendors. This is good for the team, but bad for the fans.

I’m sure you have seen many articles about the topic over the course of the year, especially with the economy. Yes, it is expensive to attend games today and having to pay twice in one day is something most fans do not want to do.

The best reason for the back to back games is for fans is it’s a buy one, get one free scenario.

Fans will pay the price for one game and get two. Teams will be bothered by the loss of gate, but there is still down time between games where the fans have nothing better to do then walk around the ball park and spend cash. This overlap could account for some gains in the loss of the gate.

There is also a theory that says if fans were to receive free tickets they would more likely to be willing to spend extra money on parking and concessions. The same situation occurs here since fans are getting two games for one.

Along with cash, the length is more ideal. Both the MLB and NCAA have looked into ways to shorten baseball games. The reason is they feel that games are too long to hold the attention of an average fan for the course of a three hour event.

If MLB and the NCAA think 1 game is too long, how do they view two games?

Two games back to back is a long time to sit and watch baseball in the stadium or at home. At home it’s convenient to just change the channel, but if you are at the stadium that means the fans would have to arrive late or leave early neither of which MLB teams want.

Now even though the back to back situation may take too long, fans are happy that they at least have the option of staying or going. A fan who is planning on staying and watching both games doesn’t have to leave and come back, while the fan who only wants to watch one game can watch whatever game they please and leave when they want.

Beside MLB teams caring about their fans, they are also concerned about their players. Even though four to eight hours of rest isn’t the same as a good nights rest, it allows players to rest more. This can allow them to get injuries looked at, stretch out more, and prevent them from pushing to hard by playing through an injury and making it worse.

However, in the back to back scenario players are already stretched out and warmed up. By continuing play it can prevent them from tightening up. Also the rest is beneficial for bullpen pitchers,  there is a chance that a pitcher will need to throw in both games. Managers might hesitate to bring in their best set up man in game two if he already pitched in the first game three hours earlier.

As you can see there are some advantages and disadvantages of the day-night doubleheader, the back to back also has good aspects as well bad aspects. So which one is better?

For me, I have to say I would prefer the back to back. I know this might have negative effects on my team. I know that it is a long time to go and watch a game. If I have the time for it, I would love to do so; and if I don’t have the time for it, as discussed before, I can leave when I want.

Very few things sound better then sitting outside on a sunny day enjoying baseball for hours on end.

I do see and understand the reasons behind having a day-night doubleheader and I can’t disagree with them. One of my friends went to Sox Park for a day night double header and made it there for first pitch for game one. When the game ended he headed outside to his car where he spent the down time tailgaiting. Once game two was about to start, he packed up and headed back in to enjoy the second game.

He told me it was one of his best times at the ballpark. That sounds like an awesome time to me. I am not sure if they let you stay in the parking lot between games anymore, but if they do, that situation sounds just as appealing as the first.

So what do you think? What would you rather attend? I’m sure there are plenty of other good reason for and against each situation so let me know what you think.