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NL East: Interleague Daze
Interleague play's just a day away! Are you psyched? Are you sitting on your couch, eagerly watching the seconds tick away on the Studio 60-style countdown clock you've installed above your TV, checking and rechecking your DVR to make sure it's set to record every glorious minute of action that will occur when the team you support faces -– get this -– a team that you do not support that doesn't even play in the same league?
If the prospect of watching Byung-Hyun Kim (1-2, 10.50 ERA) and the Marlins clash with Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.82) and the Devil Rays -– in an intrastate rivalry game, no less! -– doesn't exactly fill you with Ralphie-on-Christmas-Morning anticipation, you're not alone. This week, Braves star Chipper Jones took the commissioner's office to task for the current interleague structure, in which teams must play their often tenuously defined "rivals" six times a season. Now, Chipper's not the most beloved guy in baseball -- in fact, he tied for eighth in a poll that appears in this week's SI asking 464 major leaguers to name the "least friendly" player in the game -– but I doubt any player would disagree with his point here. "I don't think there's any question it's not fair, but I don't think major league baseball is concerned with fair," he told reporters. "If you play the top teams in the American League and everybody else doesn't, it's pretty unfair."
It is indeed unfair that the Braves must play half a dozen games against the mighty Red Sox (the Braves, you see, used to call Boston home ... until 1953), and that the Mets will play a six-pack against the usually-mighty Yankees, while the Phillies get the Blue Jays and Royals.
The Braves, in fact, will play the Red Sox (6), Indians (3), and Tigers (3), who, unfortunately for them, currently boast the top three records in the AL. Think that brutal schedule might impact them in their NL East and Wild Card races?
Even worse than the inequity, though, is this: Interleague play, now in its eleventh season, has lost its juice. In New York this week, Yankees fans aren't buzzing about this weekend's showdown with the Mets in Flushing; they're talking about Monday, when the Sox come into town for a three-game set that will go a long way towards making or breaking the Yanks' season. The Mets are also looking to Monday, when they'll travel to Atlanta to face the Braves, whom they're leading by half a game atop the NL East standings.
Interleague play has become little more than an oddity -– one that produces more dud matchups (Rockies-Orioles, anyone?) than intriguing ones. If baseball is serious about keeping the tradition alive, so that fans can continue to watch stars from the other league whom they might not normally get a chance to see (which I believe is less of an issue than it once was, in these heady days of mlb.tv, the Extra Innings package and our multitude of Internets) it should really commit to the format and schedule each team to play a three game set against every team from their opposing league, and vice versa. This would still leave 123 in-league games for NL teams, and 117 for AL teams, and would ensure that no fan base misses out on the far greater joy of making the playoffs because their team had to face Big Papi six times while their divisional competition got to tee off on Tomo Ohka.
Even better, Bud Selig's office should realize that while the interleague experiment was fresh and fun for awhile, those days are over; it should seriously consider abandoning the idea all together. Because the inconvenient truth for Major League Baseball is that the current iteration of interleague play has become worse than unfair. It's become boring.
Labels: NL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I think interleague play is a joke. It always has been. As a purist of the game, I have never been able to deal with this terrible format. The fact that it detracts from the All-Star Game and World Series makes it even worse. When the Mets and Yankees met in the World Series in 2000, it should have been a big thrill. But it wasn't, because they had already played each other during the regular season. Interleague play sucks the drama from the grandest stage in sports and needs to be torpedoed yesterday.
Interleague - all the teams should just play all the other teams in the other conference once - that's not too hard, and you can just rotate the home games per year. Or you can set it up so one division in one conference plays all the other teams in a division of the other conference for a series each.
Or you can stop being lame, put the DH in the National League, and just get rid of the idea of conferences, and go with "8 teams into the playoffs" - but you know, that might be too logical. With the DH in the NL, they can stop ducking behind the weak batting orders, maybe they can start to improve the teams, and get competitive with the AL again. Purity of the game? It's not exactly as good as making the game more fun to watch - I don't really enjoy watching a pitcher stand there for 3 straight pitches and bail out the opposing pitcher.
"My Own Savior" by Iced Earth. Because I'm self centered, that'd be my batting song (or, better yet, my song if I was a closer - too much "Enter Sandman" in the league, pick a different metal band)
Our "multitude of Internets"? I can only access one - can you post links to the other Internets you're able to access?
Metallica..."For Whom the Bell Tolls"
As a baseball fan trapped in a football crazed state(Tennessee, where EVERYTHING is orange!)I love interleauge play. Being three hours from two NL teams, Cincy and Atlanta, but being a fan of mostly AL teams, it gives my family an affordable alternative. Seeing the Red Sox in Atlanta last year over the Father's day weekend for the same price of traveling to one game at Fenway, assumimg I could get tickets, was amazing for me, even better for my son who was able to point at the field excitatly and yell "there's Papi!" instead of pointing at the TV.
playing for the cubs, i would have 'afternoon delight'
from dda boy vince
Ben(or whatever I named you), you blow out the nose at Phillies. Carlos Ruiz is the best rookie since Jeremy Bonderman(actually is pretty good but nothing real special)they are terrible with 2 out or risp rbi's,i interleague last year they had the Red Sox for 6 and the yanks(i wish we had them this year)for 3 and have the sox this year too with Minnesota,Detroit,and Cleveland, finally, the greatest theme song for a closer would be Fireman by Little Wayne. The lyrics are "you can spark it up and I'ma put you out.
out the nose
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