Welcome back, interleague play. We get our first taste of it tonight with matchups like Boston at Philadelphia, Cincinnati at New York, and Chicago at…well…Chicago. This is the last time we’ll see interleague in it’s current form, with the realignment occurring next year…Houston’s AL move finally gives us 2 even leagues with even divisions, which will lead to a balanced schedule and a much more spread-out set of interleague games. But is Major League Baseball moving in the right direction?
Friend of mine and fantastic writer Jason Collette took an impromptu poll of fans’ reaction to Interleague play. (See the bottom of the post.) You’ll see it’s close, but the majority leans towards abolishing it. I’d love to hear your comments as to why you love it or hate it – because I think if done correctly, it’s nothing but good for baseball.
Let’s start by getting this off of my chest – the WORST part of interleague play is that fact that you’re introducing games where teams are playing with different rule sets than they normally use for 140 or so games. But the root of that issue is, why are we having 2 leagues playing with different rules in the first place? Can you think of ANY other sport that has 2 leagues, playing for the same championship, where each plays with a different set of rules? It’s like saying the AFC allows kickoffs while the NFC does not in football – it’s silly.
Fixing the issue isn’t cut and dry, though. If you keep NL rules, AL teams are hosed with big contracts tailored to DH roles. If you keep AL rules, NL teams will say that their roster configuration is specifically built to avoid players who can only DH. But I think we can all agree that moving to the AL rule set would be a much smoother process as the years went by (and, as a fan of an AL team, much prefer the DH to the near-automatic-out that is the 9-hole in the National League)
But I feel like that’s the next step. I love interleague play because it gives us the chance to watch teams and games that we don’t normally get to see. Why not do that without handicapping one team or the other? I would love to see a schedule constructed in a style similar to the NFL – still play a ton of games against your own league, but play a ton of games against a single division in the other league, rotating every year. It’ll keep the excitement of interleague alive without over-killing it, and maintain a *mostly* balanced schedule (without running into the west-coast-travel-related nightmares dealing with a potential “same # games vs every team every year” argument that always seems to come up.)
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.