Doubleheaders are largely unique to baseball, and are a fan favorite. “Let’s play two,” as Ernie Banks used to say.
Well, I’ve always hated them.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate being able to watch two games in a day – that part is sweet. It’s the fact that it is nearly impossible to take both games in a doubleheader. Where a team may easily take back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday, it is much more difficult to take them when they’re both on Sunday.
The reason is that it is difficult to field your best lineup for both games – some guys just can’t play both games. And nowhere is that likely to be more obvious than with an injury-riddled Cubs lineup today.
The biggest problem spots are going to be first base, third base, and catcher. And it all comes down to Jake Fox.
Koyie Hill is the only natural catcher on the roster right now, but the prevailing wisdom is that a guy cannot catch both halves of a doubleheader. Still, there’s no doubt that if the early game is a cruise-job, with Hill catching minimal pitches, the Cubs may try to send him out there for both. If not, Jake Fox is expected to catch one of the games. Which is, of course, fine for the purposes of this post, because we’re talking about getting the right bats in the lineup – and there’s no bench bat any of us would rather see in the lineup than Jake Fox.
And then there’s third base. Sure, maybe Aramis Ramirez – still recovering from a dislocated shoulder and admittedly not 100% – will be able to play both games. But probably not. And if not, whom would we like to see replace him in the lineup? That’s right. Jake Fox.
But there’s a problem. Obviously he can’t do it in the game he’s catching, and he also probably cannot do it in the other game because he’s the backup catcher. Can’t risk putting Fox in the game, the thinking goes, because what if Hill goes down, and somehow Fox does as well. To that I say, meh. Take the chance to get Fox’s bat in the lineup. If Ramirez is going to sit one of the games, sit him in the first game and let Fox play third. Then, if Hill has to leave, Fox can shift to catch.
At first base, it’s possible that Derrek Lee will play both games. But given his neck issues, I would not be the least bit surprised to see him sit one or the other. If so, once again, the guy you’d like to see in there is Jake Fox. But it will almost certainly be Micah Hoffpauir, depending on how the above two play out.
Of course, maybe Ramirez, Lee, and Hill will all play both games, and Jake Fox will continue to rot on the bench as the backup catcher who can’t go into the game or pinch hit for fear of Hill going down.
Sounds like this will be the first thing addressed before games resume after the All Star break.