Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Interleague Play

Everyone complains about Interleague Play during the MLB season. It seems like every sports website I view or sports radio show I listen to have their own opinion about why Interleague Play should just end. Here is how many of these arguments go:

[sarcastically] "We've got a great match-up between the Pirates and Blue Jays- of course everyone looks forward to that classic match-up!"

Ok, we get it. It's an unusual match-up with ZERO rivalry involved. But this is a TERRIBLE argument. Why, you ask? Because this very same argument works for regular match-ups as well. Watch-

[again, sarcastically] "We've got a great match-up between the Mariners and Royals- of course everyone looks forward to that classic match-up!"

See, you wouldn't care about that stupid game either. So what's the harm with having fresh games that don't happen all that often? What's wrong with having pitchers hit and not be able to run the bases? What's wrong with allowing natural Interleague rivalries develop (A's/Giants, Cubs/White Sox, Yankees/Mets, etc.)? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Oh, so baseball is supposed to ignore the inflated attendance numbers during AL vs. NL games? Yeah, I love when businesses go away from profit to adhere to tradition. It's that kind of backward thinking that drives our country into the ground. "It's always been like this, so we can never change!" That attitude never got us anywhere and it doesn't work in this situation either.

The next argument is unfair scheduling. For example, this year the Cardinals play the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays from the AL East while the Brewers play the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. People will argue that this is unfair because the Yankees and Red Sox are much better than the Blue Jays. I say- who cares? These kinds of things happen in all sports. What if the schedule was made like this and the Yankees and Red Sox happened to have off years and it actually swung into the Brewers favor? This type of scheduling shenanigans happens in the NFL all the time. I believe if your team is good, they will beat whoever is on the schedule. If they are bad, they will lose. Even the Cubs managed to beat the Red Sox once, so it can be done, NL Central teams. Back in 2003, the Cubs beat the Yankees 2 of 3 at Wrigley and it was no coincidence that the '03 Cubs ended up in the playoffs. Beat teams on your schedule and stop whining.

I like Interleague Play. It keeps the schedule fresh and the rivalries I mentioned up top are typically very good (A's and Giants fans exhibited great rivalry this past weekend even though the Giants swept the A's- it just adds fuel to the fire.)

Feel free to disagree, but the fact remains, schedules may not be fair if one division happens to be weak one year versus the next. Imbalance is always going to happen and it's not Interleague Play's fault. Fan attendance, interest, and money does not lie. It's good for the game.


GMoney said...

I think that it's a pretty safe bet that ten times out of ten, you want to play the O's and Jays over the Yanks and Sawx. And there are no exceptions.

Interleague does nothing for or against me anymore. It's just another game. Although I would like to see them cut it down from six series to three or four.


Tony B. said...

I can't share your opinion on the DH. The DH limits managerial strategy and doesn't keep pitchers honest (in the NL, they can get thrown at if they are practicing head hunting.) I don't mind the AL using the DH, I guess, but I think baseball is better without specialized hitters that can't play the field.

Brandon said...

I like Interleague play mostly because of the A's-Giants matchups. It may be hard to really get excited over other series matchups (except maybe if I force myself to think of Giants-Angels as a pale imitation of Giants-Dodgers, or for one year story lines like Giants-Rangers) but fans do get a chance to see players they otherwise wouldn't (at least, without MLB network).

Tony B. said...

Brandon, weigh in on the DH issue. Do you think it belongs or are you more in favor of making the pitchers hit?

GMoney said...

If you want fans to be happy and the sport to make money with Interleague, then that is fine. But most fans under the age of 100 would rather see Big Papi hit than Ryan Dempster.

And so what about head-hunting? If an AL pitcher starts throwing at people then the other team's pitcher starts throwing at the other team's stars. That leads to bench-clearing brawls. Last time I checked, brawls were awesome.

And the Union will never let the DH die. Either the NL eventually breaks down and implements it or we continue to have the same stupid different rules for the leagues.

Tony B. said...

Yeah, something about growing up watching NL baseball that makes me dislike the DH- but I suppose it is a pretty similar argument as the people who dislike Interleague Play.

I will also say this, I would've continued to play baseball past the age of 12 if I never had to hit. Pitching was fun, but I was a BAD hitter. I once got Marlon Byrd'ed in the face when I lived in Georgia- that did not help my hitting from then on out.

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