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It's Not a Good Day to Play Two

Holiday doubleheaders are a thing of the past, as evidenced by today's Memorial Day schedule.

May 26, 2003|Ross Newhan | Times Staff Writer

Thinking of taking in that traditional holiday doubleheader?

Think again.

You're lucky if there's even a single game playing in a ballpark near you.

It's Memorial Day, but only 18 of the 30 major league teams are scheduled to play.

Neither the Angels nor Dodgers are playing.

The Angels are traveling to Baltimore to open a three-game series Tuesday night after being feted at the White House earlier in the day. The Dodgers have a day off in the Rocky Mountains, waiting to begin a series against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.

What has happened?

First of all, the major league doubleheader died long ago. Amid economic complexities, no owner is willing to double up on any of his 81 home dates.

The scheduling of a doubleheader is now the result only of a postponement.

Then, said Katy Feeney, vice president of scheduling and club relations for Major League Baseball, there are a variety of complexities affecting the holiday slates, including the fact that with 30 teams, interleague play, realignment, an unbalanced schedule and every team making requests, "the whole process has become much more complex."

Feeney also said:

* "The holiday dates are simply not as popular with teams anymore. The vacation patterns have changed. Teams are finding that people are away now much more than they used to be on the holidays. Most teams would prefer to be out of town."

* When a holiday falls on Monday, as this one does, it's a normal travel day, especially for those teams going East, and most are reluctant to travel and play a night game the same day, as well as being reluctant to schedule a home night game on the final night of a holiday weekend.

There are other issues involved at times, but the holiday slate has been diminishing for several years.

"Whenever I send in the [preseason] scheduling questionnaire," said Kevin Uhlich, the Angel senior vice president of business, "I make note that the only holiday on which we'd prefer to be home is the Fourth of July. Holidays are simply tough anymore [from an attendance standpoint]. Memorial Day, Labor Day, Mother's Day have been horrible for us."

Derrick Hall, the Dodger senior vice president of communications, stated a position opposite that of Feeney and Uhlich.

"Ask any team and they would love to be playing on the holiday for the obvious reason that it's a good attendance day," Hall said.

"I think one of the main issues is that MLB wants to feature the two or three games that will be shown nationally on ESPN [there will be four on ESPN and ESPN2] and give the rest of the teams the day off. It's crazy.

"The holidays have always been a traditional baseball day. It doesn't make sense for teams not to be playing, as far as I'm concerned."

Almost half aren't, however, as another tradition continues to bite the dust.

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