Has interleague play run its course, as Leyland says?

May 23, 2011

It's still rivalry gold

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Has Jim Leyland ever been to a White Sox-Cubs game in the regular season? A Yankees-Mets game? An A's-Giants game? I don't think so. Interleague matchups are hardly guaranteed to tingle your spine across the board — hey, Ethel, grab the kids, the Astros are playing the Blue Jays! — but so what?

Interleague play breaks up the monotony of the 162-game schedule — name me an American League team that doesn't want to play at Wrigley Field or a National League team that doesn't look forward to going to Fenway Park — and the cross-town matchups remain gold, even when they are no longer a novelty.

Yes, you can argue that they bring an unfair element into scheduling, but before worrying about that MLB should figure out how to have six five-team divisions. How fair is it that AL West teams compete against three opponents while NL Central teams go against five?

progers@tribune.com

Don't forget the fans

Steve Gould

Baltimore Sun

It's not the novelty it originally was, but interleague play still has plenty to offer to baseball's most important faction — the fans.

Not all the matchups are winners (it's safe to say there weren't a ton of people breathlessly awaiting that Orioles-Nationals series). However, interleague play gives fans of teams in the American League a chance to see the stars of the National League, and vice versa. It's an opportunity to go to their home park to watch that Cy Young Award winner dominate batters the way they've seen only on TV, or experience in person the crack of the bat when that All-World first baseman catches one on the sweet spot.

For fans who have stuck with baseball through a work stoppage, the steroid era and even a tie in the All-Star Game, it's an opportunity they deserve.

sgould@tribune.com

Fairness is an issue

Tom Housenick

The Morning Call

Interleague has run its course. What began as a novel idea of assuring annual meetings between the Yankees and Mets, the Cubs and White Sox and others, has grown into an unfair and imbalanced schedule.

Whoever gets to play the American League East in the rotating schedule, including the Yankees and their all-time MLB-best .585 winning percentage, is at a distinct disadvantage. And while the Braves get to play the marginal Angels this season, the Phillies must bang heads with the World Series favorite Red Sox. Those three games could be the difference between a division title and a wild card … or no postseason. Plus, no one cares to see the Phillies play the A's or Mariners.

In 1997, it was fun to think the Yankees and Mets would have a Subway Series every year. Perhaps that can still work, but 15 interleague games are overkill … as are the 162-game regular season and expanded playoffs.

thousenick@tribune.com

Switch things up

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

Interleague play, now in its 15th season, has lost much of its novelty and charm. And we purists loathe it for another reason: It detracts from the World Series, which used to mark the only time American and National League teams and their differing styles of play would meet.

One simple fix might reinvigorate interleague play. Why not use the designated hitter (we purists still hate that too, by the way) in National League parks and make pitchers hit in American League stadiums? Part of the original selling point of interleague play was the idea that fans could see players from the other league. Well, why not let them experience the strategic differences as well?

Either that or scrap the whole thing.

kbaxter@tribune.com

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