My Annual Rant on Interleague Play
I said it last year, and I’ll say it again; I hate Interleague play. Every time the Blue Jays tangle with a National League team, I just can’t stand it. And it turns out Jim Leyland shares my sentiments on Interleague Play, as well.
I’ll just copy/paste my comment verbatim from an Interleague post from earlier this week at Getting Blanked that summarizes my thoughts on the issue:
“The other thing that pisses me off about interleague is in the NL rules games, it automatically puts the AL teams at a disadvantage. The NL team’s hitters have some experience hitting, whereas the AL teams do not.
And it makes no sense to have so many damn interleague games, either. The Blue Jays play 18 of them? That’s 10% of the entire schedule against National League teams. I can see maybe 2 or 3 series, but this is complete overkill.
Those 18 games can make or break a season, and I just can’t see why MLB would rather have that than say the Blue Jays play another series against the Tigers or the Mariners.
Balance the damn schedule, already!”
Someone was quick to point out that it appears the American League has faired pretty well in Interleague Play, as the AL has 1,808 wins to the NL’s 1,652.
However, that doesn’t negate the fact that whenever these contests roll around, it just feels awkward. There’s no novelty to playing against the Houston Astros, the Cincinnati Reds or the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The odd time there will be a Blue Jays alumni on those teams (see Brett Wallace, Scott Rolen, Lyle Overbay, but other than that there are virtually no Blue Jays rivalries with the National League.
Aside from the Canada Day series against the Phillies, I really believe Blue Jays fans could care less about these games versus National League teams. There’s just no drama between the Jays and the Astros, Pirates, or Reds.
I liked the initial concept of these crossover games, but 18 games over 6 series is just way too long. If anything, I’d say there should be three Interleague series maximum, up to 9 or 10 games total.
The bigger issue at hand here is the unbalanced schedule. Those Interleague games could very easily be redistributed to give the Blue Jays a couple extra series against their regional rival Detroit Tigers, and maybe even throw a bone to those Jays fans out on the west coast with an extra series in Seattle.
I understand that when it comes to balancing the schedule, the road block is the almighty dollar. If it were up to Bud Selig, he’d have the Red Sox and the Yankees play each other solely for 162 games because it would generate unprecedented revenue.
So if Selig can’t have Boston and the Yankees face off more than 18 times a year, he may as well go with the next best thing and have the Mets and Yankees and the Cubs and White Sox square off in Interleague. The subway series and north side/south side series will generate a tonne of revenue.
Outside of those marquee matchups, the rest of baseball is left in the dark and is forced to play these awkward Interleague series. Maybe these games won’t be so bad after all and we’ll be privy to some great pitching matchups or slugfests. But on paper, these Interleague games fail to impress.
Ultimately, it feels like baseball is trying to force a square peg in a round hole here and Interleague matchups just don’t quite fit anymore.