I love the smell of interleague in the evening. I know it’s unpopular, and I don’t care. For those of us over here in the American League, interleague play is the only chance we get in the regular season to see our pitchers (attempt to) bat. And give me one good reason why pitchers shouldn’t bat? Nope. Nope. Not good enough. I disagree. Suck it up.
Look, it comes down to this: Are you playing baseball or not? If you are, you play the field and you bat. It’s simple. I don’t want to see a pitcher get hurt running the bases anymore than the next guy, but, if he’s a player, he should hit. And if he’s not that good, well … practice.
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Friday, the Tigers threw batting practice to the Rockies – they killed us 13-6. I don’t really think it’s our pitchers’ batting that’s the problem. In two of the last three games, we’ve had to pull pitchers in the fourth inning. No amount of solid middle-relief pitching is going to solve that problem. Sure Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are on fire, but two pitchers do not a rotation make.
I’m in no mood to rehash Detroit’s pitching problems – not right now anyway. It’s been a long week, and plenty of other people will take on that topic. So, let’s get back to some interleague talk.
Now, my only problem with interleague play is this: We have no rival. Detroit has no rival. No Reds to our Indians. No Crosstown Classic. No Subway Series. And without a rivalry, really, it’s just another game. How great would it be to have a matchup we could really sink our teeth into.
Maybe we should start one. Antagonize the hell out of some sorry unsuspecting National League team. The Brewers need a rival. Why not Milwaukee? Home of the Miller brewing company … since 1855. We could call it the Great Lakes Series. Or the MoWaukee Matchup. Or, better yet, the Drink and Drive Classic.
Wisconsin would be all over that (the rivalry, not the drinking and driving) – trust me. When I was a kid, we lived outside of Madison for two years. My parents made fast friends over beer and brats before moving back to Michigan. For the next 10 years, the Michigan-Wisconsin games would create an excuse for a road trip to Madison or 30 houseguests – either way it meant a helluva lot of beer. It was known in our house as “The Lost Weekend Classic.”
Milwaukee’s an option.
Or how about the Diamondbacks? They seem like a natural rival for Detroit, since so many ex-Michiganders live in Arizona. Wait. They already cheer for the Tigers in Arizona. Their manager was a Tiger. A very famous Tiger. Well that’s not exciting. Never mind.
Hmmm. Let’s see. How about Atlanta – the Delta Hub Series. Okay, no. Washington? No real tension there. Colorado? Too pretty.
This may all seem totally ridiculous, but baseball rivalries – all sports rivalries – are good for business. And let’s face it; we could use a little more business around these parts. So all joking aside, the Tigers need a National League rival for their interleague play. Something to fill the seats. Pack the bars. A reason to tailgate. (I know, I know – who needs a reason?) Something MLB will take into consideration when making the schedule. And hey, we get to see our pitchers bat (sort of). What could be better than that?
If interleague play isn’t your thing, don’t worry – it’ll all be over soon enough … round about the time the New York Yankees take on the National League in the All-Star Game. You think I’m joking. Don’t vote (for Alex Avila) and see what happens.
Next up for the Tigers? The Dodgers. What a series that will be! No? Okay. Then let’s get something going here. A little friendly rivalry. I vote for the Brewers. Why not? Good beer, good food, a party down at the ballpark – what more do you need?
We’ve got at least a year to build this thing up. Let’s do it. Let’s hate ’em. Let’s get this thing started.
Hey Milwaukee – your mother’s a Budweiser.