Being a baseball traditionalist, I’m not a fan of interleague play. Despite my contempt, I get it: Interleauge games draw in casual fans and give the sport a spark of excitement, just like the designated hitter (which I’m also not a fan of) did when it was installed back in the ’70s.
American fans are all about having something new, and once the glimmer wears off, they’re ready to move on to something different. There is no doubt interleague attendance has remained high over the years, but forcing meaningless rivalries on the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners is just ridiculous.
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There are some great rivalries, such as the New York Yankees and New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. But just as the Boston Red Sox and Yankees rivalry has grown tiresome over the past several years (because they play 18 times and they’re always broadcasted nationally), these rivalries aren’t as fun or rare when you get to see them every year.
They’ll be much more anticipated and meaningful if they happen every three years or possibly in the World Series. Imagine if the Olympics or World Cup were every year instead of every four years. They wouldn’t be as exciting and would lose their luster.
Major League Baseball is all about trying to make schedules fair for 2013 when the Houston Astros move over to the American League. The fact is it will always be impossible to make a balanced schedule. Is it fair that teams that play the Philadelphia Phillies at the beginning of 2012 don’t have to deal with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard but those at the end of the season will?
I don’t know how the scheduling is going to work with 15 teams in each league and an interleague series every night. I certainly hope it doesn’t increase the number of interleague games each year. A home-and-home series between one division of the other league each year should be enough to entertain the fans and keep things balanced and interesting.
For instance, teams in the National League East should play teams in the American League West in 2013, the Central in 2014 and then the East in 2015. I think this would be a good system and would give fans a chance to see every team within a three year period.
MLB will never be able to find a perfect system to please everyone, but I think they’ve done a great job of spicing up the game to entertain the fans, which is what it should all be about. They’re going to do what’s best for the sport and whatever generates the most revenue, which, in the case of baseball, usually means that fans are happy.
I know Atlanta Braves and NL East fans will be happy when they no longer have to face the ridiculously tough AL East year after year. But it’s a 162-game season, and they play who’s on the schedule with no complaints from players. They should go out and perform every day no matter who they’re up against.
But as far as fans go, we want to be entertained with the chance to see players from the other league we don’t normally get to see. As a National League fan, I’ll go to the ball park to watch Felix Hernandez pitch or Jose Bautista swing.
The scheduling process for 2013 is important for the future of the sport. I think more changes are coming, but I believe they will be great for baseball and its fans.