The Rays did not want to play a doubleheader on Thursday, to a point that acting player representative Ben Zobrist contacted the MLB Players Association to complain.
But a clause in the collective bargaining agreement allowed the Red Sox the leeway to schedule a split doubleheader rather than seek alternatives such as mutual days off later in the season.
On most occasions, a team can only schedule a split doubleheader when ticket sales for the game at the time of the postponement exceed the number of tickets available to be exchanged and both the postponed and regularly scheduled game occur in the last scheduled series at a particular park.
But the Red Sox and Cubs have a long-grandfathered right to reschedule any postponed game as a split doubleheader even if the usual criteria are not met.
According to Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, the clause is the product of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field having the smallest capacities in the majors combined with a high demand for tickets.
“Rainouts, at times, can be tough to find a [makeup] date that’s beneficial to both [teams] if there is such a thing,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “We settled on today.”
The teams have a mutual off day on Sept. 22, the day before the teams start a three-game series at Fenway. But the Red Sox, Farrell said, wanted to preserve that date.
“The one thing that we can’t predict is what the future holds,” he said. “You [have] this date as an off day or a mutual off day late in September. We have a number of teams that come in here one time … so it provides some flexibility if weather hit us for a National League team that comes in here only once.
“You take that away and now all of a sudden we’re looking at the potential of adding games at the end of the year if we get into a rainout situation. You’re trying to factor in as many things as possible and flexibility in the schedule is one of them.”
The Red Sox had competitive reasons as well. Their rotation is relatively stable while the Rays are dealing with injuries. Lefthander Cesar Ramos, who will start Game 1 for the rays, started the season as a reliever. The Red Sox also have a stronger and deeper bullpen.
In theory, the Rays could be a stronger team in September than they are now. A rescheduled game could lead to the Red Sox facing David Price as opposed to a fill-in like Ramos.