Friday, May 20, 2011

My Annual Rant on Interleague Play


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I said it last year, and I'll say it again; I hate Interleague play. Every time the Blue Jays tangle with a National League team, I just can't stand it. And it turns out Jim Leyland shares my sentiments on Interleague Play, as well.

I'll just copy/paste my comment verbatim from an Interleague post from earlier this week at Getting Blanked that summarizes my thoughts on the issue:
"The other thing that pisses me off about interleague is in the NL rules games, it automatically puts the AL teams at a disadvantage. The NL team’s hitters have some experience hitting, whereas the AL teams do not.

And it makes no sense to have so many damn interleague games, either. The Blue Jays play 18 of them? That’s 10% of the entire schedule against National League teams. I can see maybe 2 or 3 series, but this is complete overkill.

Those 18 games can make or break a season, and I just can’t see why MLB would rather have that than say the Blue Jays play another series against the Tigers or the Mariners.

Balance the damn schedule, already!"
Someone was quick to point out that it appears the American League has faired pretty well in Interleague Play, as the AL has 1,808 wins to the NL's 1,652.

However, that doesn't negate the fact that whenever these contests roll around, it just feels awkward. There's no novelty to playing against the Houston Astros, the Cincinnati Reds or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The odd time there will be a Blue Jays alumni on those teams (see Brett Wallace, Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, but other than that there are virtually no Blue Jays rivalries with the National League.

Aside from the Canada Day series against the Phillies, I really believe Blue Jays fans could care less about these games versus National League teams. There's just no drama between the Jays and the Astros, Pirates, or Reds.

I liked the initial concept of these crossover games, but 18 games over 6 series is just way too long. If anything, I'd say there should be three Interleague series maximum, up to 9 or 10 games total.

The bigger issue at hand here is the unbalanced schedule. Those Interleague games could very easily be redistributed to give the Blue Jays a couple extra series against their regional rival Detroit Tigers, and maybe even throw a bone to those Jays fans out on the west coast with an extra series in Seattle.

I understand that when it comes to balancing the schedule, the road block is the almighty dollar. If it were up to Bud Selig, he'd have the Red Sox and the Yankees play each other solely for 162 games because it would generate unprecedented revenue.

So if Selig can't have Boston and the Yankees face off more than 18 times a year, he may as well go with the next best thing and have the Mets and Yankees and the Cubs and White Sox square off in Interleague. The subway series and north side/south side series will generate a tonne of revenue.

Outside of those marquee matchups, the rest of baseball is left in the dark and is forced to play these awkward Interleague series. Maybe these games won't be so bad after all and we'll be privy to some great pitching matchups or slugfests. But on paper, these Interleague games fail to impress.

Ultimately, it feels like baseball is trying to force a square peg in a round hole here and Interleague matchups just don't quite fit anymore.

7 comments:

  1. I never liked the fact that they lump the interleague games together. It gives it an exhibition feel when it's "interleague weekend." The NFL doesn't pick a week and have all the ACF teams play all the NFC teams that week. Not the NBA. Just baseball.

    It also annoys me that the Yankees get to keep the pathetic Mets as their natural rivals, and pick up easy wins. The Sox had the Braves as their rivals, when the Braves were dominant. Then, they had the Marlins as their rivals the year after they won the World series. Then they've had the extra series against the Phillies...the best team in the NL the last few years. How is that fair?

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  2. Section 36, same here - a long stretch of nearly 2 weeks solid of Interleague games is a little overkill for me, personally.

    The Blue Jays haven't been very privy to good NL matchups either: last year it was the Rockies, Padres, Phillies, Cardinals and D-Backs. Aside from the Astros and the Pirates this year, the Blue Jays will once again have a tough Interleague schedule.

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  3. Presumably the pitcher batting rules in the NL are offset partially by the fact that many AL teams spend additional money to have a DH (with less emphasis on fielding skill) and therefore have one additional potent bat compared to NL teams, (in theory at least - I'm looking at you E5).

    But I agree - if the AL East teams each play different teams of varying strength for 18 games, how can you really allow one of them to win their own league by 1+ wins at the end of the day? One series against the Pirates is all the difference it might take (though the Jays get the benefit this year). The season of 162 games should be an ultimate shake down as to who the best team is, not who the lucky one was that got the weakest inter-league rivals.

    And ... is Houston even still part of North America?

    (And yes, I know the Houstonian's are asking the same question about Toronto - that's kind of the point.)

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  4. QJays, it just doesn't seem right. Same thing goes with the All-Star Game. Not sure what Bud Selig's obsession is with having both leagues intertwined, but I hope the new commish puts a squash to that.

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  5. I am not so fond of interleague either, but getting to see Joey Bats and the gang come down to Atlanta guarantees my attendance for 2 or hopefully 3 games at Turner Field. As much as I love the rare treat of watching a blue jays game and not watching the pitch by pitch on mlb gameday, the Braves, Phillies, Reds, and Cardinals? Thats just not fair.

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  6. Atlantan BlueJay, that's one of the positives of Interleauge: you do get to see some fresh faces you would not otherwise see in regular inter-division play. I actually like the Braves and look forward to seeing that series.

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  7. Ian, I agree with everything in this post 100%. Inter league play needs to go.

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