Friday, May 21, 2010

Interleague Play

It's time for Interleague Play to go away. The novelty has worn off.

Back in 1997, it was all brand new. Before that season, the Mets played the Yankees only in Spring Training (the Yankees trained in Ft. Lauderdale on the east coast of Florida until 1995) and in the Mayor's trophy game. Those were exhibitions, which is how AL vs NL should always be. It didn't matter much who won and who lost.

But in 1997, a few years after losing a World Series from a player's strike that was a hit to the league's image, baseball tried something new. Having AL teams play NL teams in the regular season. That first year saw weird matchups like San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers (the first ever game), Mets at Detroit Tigers, Baltimore at Atlanta. It was a novelty. It was something to be interested in.

Now we've been watching this for 13 years, almost a decade after baseball stopped ramming the same matchups down our throats (East vs. East, Central vs. Central, West vs. West). We get a potpourri of teams to play. One from one division, two from another, two from another. And there's always some matchups that we MUST see. How could you NOT have this novelty without seeing Cubs-White Sox in Chicago, Dodgers-Angels in Southern California, or Mets-Yankees in New York?

When it first started, the Mets only played the Yankees once. That lasted two years. Imagine that. This year at Yankee Stadium, and next year at Shea. Then it started towards jumping the shark when the rotations and such were thrown off by the now-mandatory home-and-home series. And now no baseball schedule is complete without that series (and other similar series for each team....oh wait). Not every team has this natural rival. Someone has to play Colorado or Toronto while this nonsense is going on.

When it first started, it was such a novel idea that the first-ever Mets-Yankees series (at Yankee Stadium) was not set on a weekend. It was a Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon series. Today, it's not complete without being part of FOX's Saturday Game of the Week and ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball at least 3 times in 6 weekend games.

It's time for this crap to go, and play games that have a bigger impact on the standings.

But MLB needs to finish up Interleague Play the right and fair way. Find all the matchups that have ever been. Look for teams that have never visited a certain city. For example, the Chicago White Sox have never played the Mets in Queens. Their only matchup was in 2002 in Chicago. Have the Chi-Sox visit the Mets to even things up. How wacky has the scheduling been? The Minnesota Twins are going to make their 3rd visit to Queens to face the Mets later this season, while the Mets have only been out to the Twin Cities once. Take a year or two to even the score as much as possible in terms of teams playing each other in home-and-home, and then make a clean break. If these games are so big, have every team play an Interleague home-and-home weekend before the season starts as exhibition games.

For me, I HATE seeing Yankee fans in my ballpark to the point where they become the dominant voice for these 3 games. I don't normally mind seeing fans from the other team at the game. It's fair. I've been to one or two Mets road games in my life, so that was the case. But that's the hatred I have for the Yankees more than any other team. And it didn't used to be this way. Interleague Play changed that.


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