September 28, 2021

If I Ran Baseball-Interleague Edition

June 13, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Recently a few managers have come out against interleague play, stating the uniqueness has worn off, and that interleague play is tired.  I disagree.  I think it’s great that some interleague “traditions” have stuck around, like Cubs/White Sox, A’s/Giants, and Marlins/Rays.  Ok, so maybe Marlins/Rays isn’t the most exciting matchup, but it’s still the battle of Florida.  What is tired is when there are matchups like Tigers/Rockies, Nationals/Mariners, or Twins/Astros.  These teams have nothing against each other, they have no history.  Blue Jays/Nationals might have some appeal, as the battle of Canada versus the team America stole.  But really, the rotating games don’t have appeal except for the ability to see your team play in a ballpark you might not normally visit.  I was able to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Tigers and Pirates battle it out.  I had been to Pittsburgh before, but being able to see my team in an NL park was special.  I’d feel the same way if the Tigers played the Dodgers.  I haven’t been to Dodger stadium yet, and one day I will, but it would be great to see my team there.

So let me get to my point.  My point is, interleague play can still be exciting for the fans, and can keep the managers in the game with a few tweaks.  First, pair off the teams for a rivalry.  Those are listed below.  These should be a home and home series every year.  Feel free to argue the matchups, but I think they fit fairly well.  Most of these matchups are already in place.  Wikipedia provided some info that I wasn’t aware of, like Seattle and San Diego playing a home-and-home series every year.

Natural Rivalries:

White Sox vs. Cubs; Reds v. Indians; Dodgers v. Angels; Yankees v. Mets; Giants v. A’s; Cardinals v. Royals; Astros v. Rangers; Marlins v. Rays; Orioles v. Nationals

Created/Historic Rivalries:

Blue Jays v. Phillies-Why not?  Joe Carter’s walk-off home run in 1993 provided one of the more dramatic moments in World Series history.

Red Sox v. Braves- Former Boston versus current Boston.  Imagine the throwback uniforms these two teams could wear.

Twins v. Brewers- According to Wiki, this series occurs already because of their AL rivalry back in the day, so we’ll keep it.

Tigers v. Pirates- These are two of the most historic teams in baseball, so why not?  The alternative is to swap with the Cards/Royals matchup.  Tigers/Cards is a very nice historic rivalry (see 1968 and 2006).  Then, we could create the Cocaine Series of Royals/Pirates.  Ok maybe that wouldn’t go over so well….We could call it the battle of the small market teams instead?

Mariners v. Padres- These two teams share a spring training complex and already have the series, so why take it away?  Another option would be Mariners/Brewers, since the Pilots moved from Seattle to Milwaukee to become the Brewers.  But that would leave Twins/Padres, which really has no rivalry feeling to it.

That leaves Arizona and Colorado without a rival.  They are already NL West rivals so let’s keep that going.  The other option would be to add another rivalry for Arizona and have them play Tampa Bay in the 1998 Expansion Team battle.  Then, Colorado could play an extra few series against Florida in the 1993 Expansion Battle.  But really, that gives the Rays and the Marlins an extra rival each, while historic teams like the Yankees only get one?  So, Arizona and Colorado might get screwed out of a rivalry, but they can rival each other.  Sure it screws up some tiebreakers, but that isn’t the point of this argument.  It’s about creating matchups the fans can get behind.

Second, and the most major point, is change the rules for interleague play.  The novel idea of interleague play is seeing teams that you wouldn’t normally see, so why not see a game you wouldn’t normally see?  I say, if the game is in an AL park, eliminate the DH and have the pitcher bat.  If the game is in an NL park, give them the DH.  Fans might embrace interleague play more if there is something different about the game.  And think about how the mangers would respond?  This would be a move all about the fans.  Imagine going to Yankee Stadium and watching CC Sabathia hit.  Sure, you can see this when the Yanks and Mets are at Citi, if CC pitches, but think about being a fan in your home park watching this.  Cub fans love when Carlos Zambrano pinch hits, it’s a novelty that a pitcher is a pinch hitter.  But image Big Z as a DH.  Sure, it’s not that unique to Cub fans watching Big Z come to the plate, but think about being in Wrigley cheering your AL team and having the opponents bat their pitcher as a DH.  Sure, this sort of stuff can happen in interleague now, but it’s about being home and watching something different.  Baseball has many issues that need to be addressed, but if I ran baseball, this would be the first issue to fix; it’s a no-brainer and it’s simple to do.  Bring me a pitcher batting to Comerica Park!  Think of it as this:  the Yankees invade Citi field, with their own rules.

So why not do either of these?  If you institute the DH at NL parks for interleague games, it’s something different for the fans to witness.  The rivalry is fun and I think in some cities it would take on the significance of Red Sox/Yanks, and Cubs/Cards.  This just might make interleague play more exciting.  I get the argument that putting a DH in an NL city goes against tradition, but interleague play goes against tradition, doesn’t it?


One Response to “If I Ran Baseball-Interleague Edition”
  1. Tom Zocco says:

    I would like to see interleague play cut down to twelve games. Being a National League fan, I do not like watching games with the designated hitter. Good hitting pitchers such as Dan Haren and C.C. Sabathia are wasting away in the American league. If the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano, a good hitting pitcher, hopefully it will be to a National League team. Many American league players, such as Paul Molitor and Edgar Martinez, never would have compiled the statistics that they did if they had to play in the National League.

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