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Why I Can't Stand Interleague Play | Blue Jay Hunter

Why I Can’t Stand Interleague Play

1994
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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.

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Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his son for the next 20 years.

14 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    June 11, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    Schedule will not be balanced anytime soon I'm afraid.

    The NL will one day adopt the DH. Just a question of when. Then at least interleague might be a little more palatable.

    1. Ian - BJH

      June 11, 2012 - 7:47 pm

      I don't expect the NL to adopt the AL rules (after all, the National League has been around with these rules 25 longer than the AL). It's just not my cup of tea.

  2. Steve02

    June 11, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    I understand your argument completely and agree with the majority of your points but believe that I, like you, may just be biased towards the AL rules. To me, the most compelling aspect of Interleague play is the opportunity to see my team square off against different players/teams. We're just about to get to welcome Harper and Strasburg to Rogers Centre. In the past, we've played against Halladay. I believe these are good things.

    1. Ian - BJH

      June 11, 2012 - 7:48 pm

      There are some favourable matchups this week with Strasburg on Wednesday, and if Halladay wasn't on the DL he might've gone this weekend. But other than that, there's not much to the Blue Jays Interleague series this year.

  3. Dave H

    June 11, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    When Interleague play started many years ago everyone was saying ha ha the AL pitchers have to bat and they suck. Now so many years later fans of AL teams more likely saying dammit the AL pitcher have to bat and they suck!!

  4. Tony

    June 11, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    I'm not really a fan of Interleague play either. I used to enjoy when the Expos played the Jays for the Pearson cup. And I remember when Detroit came to town it was always a good battle and exciting. I'm happy with the occasional series, but am I really interested in watching San Diego or the Astros or the Rockies? Uh…no. And I don't want to watch Ricky Romero or Drew Hutchinson batting ninth for an automatic out. I want to see J.P. or Rajai Davis getting on base and bringing the run home. As far as I'm concerned, Detroit never should have put in the Central Division.

    1. Ian - BJH

      June 11, 2012 - 7:48 pm

      Here, here – bring back the Tigers!

  5. Anonymous

    June 12, 2012 - 1:32 am

    Starting next year, inter league play will happen every day. Yikes! I'd much prefer a balanced schedule, but at the very least, please utilize the DH for all inter league games. Hitters should hit and pitchers should hit. If you're going to make pitchers hit, then hitters should pitch more often. Wouldn't it be interesting if both teams threw their hitters out there to pitch against each other? Maybe not.

    1. Anonymous

      June 12, 2012 - 1:34 am

      Oops, I meant to say "hitters should hit and pitchers should pitch."

    2. Ian - BJH

      June 12, 2012 - 4:33 am

      Ah yes, good point – I totally forgot that Interleague will be a year 'round affair starting next season. I guess that actually makes it a little more tolerable because it's sprinkled throughout the season, rather than this giant 2 week block of games.

  6. Matt Eichel

    June 12, 2012 - 2:29 am

    When the Expos came into town for a Canada Day weekend that was great, and maybe some regional teams (i.e. Nats, Mets, Cubs). I'd say replace interleague games with games against good rivals like Detroit, Minnesota, Boston, New York, Baltimore, and others. Make the rivalries more important than a "crowning jewel" of an old commissioner who thinks he's making the game better.

    1. Ian - BJH

      June 12, 2012 - 4:35 am

      More series against the Tigers, and even the Indians and Twins would make more sense. There always seems to be a strong Blue Jays contingent in those cities.

    2. Randall Selinger

      May 25, 2014 - 12:00 am

      Get over yourself…..it's just a game, and they're all pros….personally I think there's too much play in the same division, but I really don't care about that either…it's entertainment, not religion, and if it is religion to you, get a life! lol!

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