Friday, May 18, 2007

Interleague, Schminterleague

I used to be a big fan of interleague play. Back when the Yankees and Mets squared off for the first time it actually had the air of a post season matchup. It divided the city and it seemed that everyone had a rooting interest. I believe the Yankees won the first match up in extra innings, but I could be wrong. The thing is that there have been so many Yankees-Mets matchups that they are beginning to run together in my mind.

The novelty of seeing players from different leagues play against each other has begun to wear on me. I'm not particularly concerned with interleague play taking something away from the All-Star game or the World Series, it's just that it interrupts regular season play twice. The Yankees and Mets are also at a disadvantage because they have to play two series against each other. The "natural" rivals play a home and home series against each other. The Yankees and Mets are both good teams and therefore the games are usually tight and neither team ends up with much of an advantage. But let's consider the case of the St. Louis Cardinals who have been beating up on their "natural" rival for years. Last year the Cardinals won the central division and subsequently the World Series. They ended up winning the central by one game. They also had the luxury of playing the Kansas City Royals six times last year. Now if they had played the Yankees or the Angels or the Twins six times in interleague play last year, they may not have even reached the post season. But that is inequity inherent in interleague play. I'm not sure that there's a better way to handle this except to cut down the "natural" rival games to one series. In New York that would mean one year the games would be at Shea, the next at Yankee Stadium. That would give the fans of the rivals three chances to see their teams square off. That really is more than enough.

Some teams don't really have natural geographic rivals, so they end up playing in games that no one particularly cares about. Sure it's great to see the Rangers play the Astros, but why is Toronto playing Philadelphia six times (I'm not exactly sure that is what happens, but you get my point). San Diego and Seattle?? Kansas City and Colorado?? Those teams aren't rivals, but yet they have to play each other in two series. I don't mean to get down on this because it was a good idea at the time and it's probably here to stay. The interleague games do increase attendance and as long as the fans are still voting yes with their pocketbooks, it's here to stay. Unfortunately for me, the thrill is gone. I just don't get that excited about playing the Mets. And having an extra trip to the west coast must be absolute thrilling for the Yankee players.

I'm sure there is a place for interleague play in the baseball schedule. Perhaps if they changed it to every other year and limited the games to just a handful, it would still be an exciting event. As it stands now, it's just another part of the schedule that, like it or not, will probably play a major role in determining who ends up in the playoffs.

Have a good weekend everybody. And before I ride off into the sunset, I would like to send out a special hello to my #1 reader (and probably only reader) in North Carolina. Thanks for the visits, Denise. I really appreciate it. Go Tar Heels!!!



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