|Good to See Interleague Play Go||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on June 28, 2010
Good riddance to interleague play.
Sure there were some entertaining games this past week as interleague play wrapped up for 2010.Â But there are plenty of teams who'll be happy to tell you how much they didn't enjoy interleague play.Â That includes the LA Dodgers who managed to go 4-11 in 15 games against teams on the right side of .500, As well as the Phillies, Twins, Rays and pretty much all the bottom dwellers (especially the Astros and Pirates who were just mauled by the opposition for a combined 5-25 record in interleague) who found their seasons endangered by tough interleague match ups that many of their opponents just didn't have.
That's something that has given the American League an advantage not just during interleague play, but in the World Series too and it probably explains the overall historical edge of the AL during interleague and during the Fall Classic since 1973 when the DH became part of the AL game.Â During the earlier days when the DH was still fairly novel it wasn't quite as bad, mainly because free agency was still a fairly novel concept, but as time has gone by it's become more of a factor as the AL has a 17-10 edge in World Series championships since 1983 when teams started paying huge salaries to players just to be the DH.
Perhaps that's the reason that interleague play falls a little flat.Â The Astros don't have an answer for a Vladimir Guerrero, or a Hideki Matsui, or a David Ortiz.Â In fact none of the top 10 teams in the NL really possess a bench player who stacks up against their American League counterpart.
That's a difference which is hard to celebrate, and celebrating those differences should be one of the things that interleague play should be about.Â After all, the American and National Leagues play very different styles of baseball.
Yet that's something that the lords of baseball seem to have forgotten.Â To them interleague play is a cash cow.Â It's about the only six sellouts that Pirates ownership will see in 2010 (perhaps a slight bit of hyperbole, but probably true) and about good television ratings.
And the commentators who do that television often seem unaware of the differences between the styles of the game and fail to promote them, debate them or even point them out to the viewers.Â Admittedly not all of them fail in this, but it rarely seems like something being stressed, except to point out how the National League game inconveniences American League managers in planning their game.
That's a tragedy for fans, especially younger fans who live in AL only cities, who miss out on the strategies and nuances of the game that captivated their parents, grandparents and their parents too.Â Instead the differences are regularly minimized, and often dismissed.
Yet, that's what baseball should be celebrating.Â Interleague is a chance for baseball to return to its own roots, to bring back the game of old for all fans to see.Â The strategy, the subtle differences that force managers into being much more hands on with their lineups and pitching combinations and the basis for the nostalgia for the teams of old.
That's something that even AL fans should be reminded of -- the legendary pitchers of the game had to hit for themselves, even Babe Ruth batted when he pitched, so did Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Bob Feller and so many more.Â It's a piece of baseball's history that's being lost instead of celebrated.
Eliminating the DH during interleague play is one thing that could be done to give the games more balance, while opening up the door to everyone when it comes to celebrating the heart of the game.Â It's a move that should be a no brainer.Â After all baseball relies heavily on selling its history and nostalgia and the roots of the game are as nostalgic and historical as it gets.