MLB Should Not Diminish Interleague Play

It wasn’t so very long ago that the entire concept of interleague play was pretty darned exciting. Now Major League Baseball wants to cut back on it. Well, Commissioner Bud Selig should be careful.

Some fans are indifferent to games pitting teams from each league. Some fans consider it the highlight of the season. It would be foolish to cut back on the now-traditional series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets and the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

MLB is having discussions now that would affect the 2013 schedule. One reason for re-visiting interleague play is because one team is going to be moving permanently interleague. The Houston Astros are shifting from the National League to the American League for better or worse, so schedule makers are trying to figure out how everything will work.

I don’t have that type of sophisticated computer in my head so I can’t help them on that. But I do know that Yankees-Mets and Cubs-White Sox hasn’t lost any luster. The big picture of interleague play can’t match that kind of emotion generated, though, because not every team has a natural geographic rival. I bet the St. Louis Cardinals-Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Dodgers-Los Angeles Angels can still get some bragging rights juices going–or they certainly would if the teams were equal. Even Houston-Rangers sounds pretty intriguing to me.

Certainly fans aren’t fooled by artificially constructed rivalries. If the emotion isn’t there, then it isn’t there and can’t be manufactured and singles discover that every day with their Internet blind dates. However, the same holds true with regular, in-league scheduling. Not every opponent is so attractive that the game is an instant sellout. You can’t tell me that the average fan looks over the Dodgers schedule and when he sees that the Pirates are due in town for three he considers it must-view theatre worth skipping work over.

So there are always just games on the schedule. It’s silly to believe that all games are created equal. It’s a bigger deal when the Dodgers play the Giants than when the Dodgers play the Astros. The ideal situation, of course, and it is true for some cities, is when it doesn’t matter who the home team plays, it’s all about going to see the home team play.

The Red Sox haven’t had an empty seat at Fenway Park for any game in nine years. Didn’t matter if the Sox were playing the Yankees or the Twins, the Tigers or the Royals, the park was packed.

When it comes to interleague play, I think it would be too casual of Major League Baseball to ditch it, restrict too severely, or slash the number of geographic rival games too dramatically. If there must be a change for schedule balance, the best solution for the best of the interleague series would be to keep two, home-and-home two-game series a year instead of the two, three-game series.

Two-thirds of a loaf can still be pretty tasty.

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Tags: Bud Selig Chicago Cubs Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers Fenway Park Houston Astros Interleague Play Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Baseball Minnesota Twins New York Mets New York Yankees Pittsburgh Pirates San Francisco Giants St. Lous Cardinals Texas Rangers

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