|Interleague Play too Noticeable||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on May 25, 2010
The novelty is gone.
Interleague play was great for a few years, but let's face it, it's gotten old.Â Sure they've tried to keep it fresh by mixing it up and sending teams to different cities and even this year by trying to create some new rivalries (although I don't quite get "rivalries" like Rangers - Cubs or Marlins - While Sox).Â But these new rivalries, while entertaining for their novelty don't help change the fact that interleague baseball on the whole has become old hat.
That inequity is a major flaw in the interleague ointment; interleague play as it is done right now simply isn't fair to many of the teams involved.Â Sure it's good for ticket sales, but is it good for the game when monolithic big payroll teams get to match up against either teams that are of marginal major league caliber or to watch them crush a team who minus interleague play might actually make the playoffs and thus deny them that chance?
Admittedly baseball has tried hard to eliminate some of the worst match ups recently; we'll only get to see St. Louis beat up Kansas City three times instead of six this year, but the Reds will still get to mash on Cleveland six times and the Astros probably won't much enjoy their six games vs. the Rangers, not to mention the three against the Rays and Yankees.
Sure there are unexpected things that happen (the Mets taking two of three from the Yankees this past weekend), but the Mets are at least close to a .500 ballclub, while for the Astros taking a single game of the three against the Rays has to be considered a major victory.
What it boils down to is that interleague play disrupts parity and leads to situations that artificially affect playoff races, and it gets boring too for cities who don't get to see games that really matter, or even have bragging rights attached - an extra series against a division rival would mean a lot more.
Balancing the schedule, or a least evening it out for everyone but the Wild Card teams, shouldn't be an impossible thing to accomplish (although the NL Central and AL West who have six and four teams respectively and could make it tricky), but it would force teams to play even more interleague games and might even break up some of the rivalries that are so good.
My feelings toward interleague play have certainly hardened over the years.Â Maybe that's because I've seen how good it can be, and how bad it can be, on many different levels (game, series and how it effects the playoffs), but what it boils down to in the end, is that when unbalanced interleague play ends up being a factor that decides playoff spots, something is dreadfully wrong.