Why I Can’t Stand Interleague Play
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There is nothing exciting about a sacrifice bunt. There is nothing exciting about double switches or watching pitchers running the bases. I said it two years ago, I said it last year, and I’ll say it once again – I can’t stand Interleague play.
Maybe a large part of it has to due with the Blue Jays less than favourable record against National League teams, but Interleague series simply just don’t do it for me.
Interleague series were instituted by Bud Selig back in 1997, and he likely sees it as one of the crowning jewels of his regime as baseball’s commissioner. To have American League teams play National League teams 18 times per season.
That’s over one-tenth of a team’s schedule spent playing teams they otherwise might not see in the next 4-5 years down the road. So rather than balance the MLB schedule, Bud Selig would rather have the Blue Jays play unnatural rivals like the New York Mets and the Florida Marlins.
I’m not saying I’m against Interleague play entirely; that little three game series in late May against the Mets was fine. But it’s one thing for Interleague games to be a novelty, but it’s another to make it complete overkill.
Here’s a question for Blue Jays fans – would you rather see the Blue Jays play a series against the Florida Marlins? Or would you rather see them play the Detroit Tigers more than two series a season? The Tigers are a historical and regional rival of the Blue Jays, so it only makes sense to increase those games.
My friend Andrew decided to watch Friday’s Braves/Jays game on the Peachtree TV feed just as a change of pace, and apparently the Braves commentators took the Blue Jays to task for not playing the game the “right way” … as in the National League way.
Where the Braves traditionally play with nine players on the field, the Braves commentators remarked how the Blue Jays have the upper hand by playing with ten players.
If anything, I’d say the Blue Jays were the ones at the disadvantage this weekend with their pitchers having to swing the bat … where they otherwise would sit in the dugout and focus on pitching.
Jon Morosi has advocated that in order to make Interleague games more interesting, the American League teams should adopt the National League rules when playing at home and vice verca. While that would change things up a little bit, it still leaves the fact that pitchers would be hitting.
Like I said off the top, there’s nothing exciting about asking the pitcher in the number nine position in the lineup to lay down a bunt. Nor should it be exhilirating when one pitcher cuts up another. Because that’s exactly what you’d expect to happen.
I think that’s my big problem with Interleague play, and more specifically the National League rules games – it’s the predictability of that style of baseball. There’s not as much of an element of surprise in the senior circuit as there is the junior circuit.
As we saw on Sunday, Edwin Encarnacion was camped out in left field for the very first time in his Major League career. This was just of the textbook National League examples of camping a less than exemplary fielder on the outfield or first base just to work their bat into the lineup.
Not only that, but I recall John Farrell remarked back in Spring Training that Encarnacion might get some work in left field during these Interleague games in June. So Farrell had to plot out some defensive lineups two to three months before the games would even take place.
So for all these reasons, you can understand why this 15-game stretch for the Blue Jays is probably my least favourite portion of the schedule. Sure, there are games against the Phillies and Braves, but the last time these teams competed against each other with something on the line was 20 years ago.
Rather than force these Interleague “rivalries” down people’s throats, I think this energy would be much more well spent in balancing the schedule. But I’m afraid that so long as Bud Selig is the commissioner, things won’t be much different.