Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back to Interleague Play

This weekend marks the return of interleague play. The marquee match-up is the Chicago Cubs first series in Boston against the Red Sox since the 1918 World Series. That series famously was the last title for the Sox until 2004. The Cubs haven't brought home the banner since 1908.

It makes for a good narrative. And throw in the recent reports speculating that the beloved Cubbies were paid by gamblers to throw the series and you have quite a yarn for the hype machine to spin.

I've never been a big fan of interleague play. I'd much rather see divisional rivals play each more. Those are the games that decide divisions and pennants. But the fans get into it, so I am probably in the minority. Living in the New York City area, I see and hear all the excitement leading up to a Yankees-Mets match-up.

As I wrote in April, I'd rather see a radical realignment of the leagues to take advantage of geographical and historical rivalries. I've heard some fans say they wouldn't like to see the Yanks and Mets play too many times. I've never read such complaints about the Dodgers and Giants -- either when they were in New York or after they moved west.

My biggest problem with interleague play has been the way it has erased the line between the leagues. Free agency was the beginning of the end I suppose. It allowed players to move freely between the American and National Leagues.

But with interleague play, all is one. No longer do you have to wait for the All-Star Game to see the best players face each other. No longer is there much animosity between the Junior and Senior Circuits. The all-stars and the World Series teams were battling for league supremacy and bragging rights. It all seems so watered down now.

I know the media and fans love to keep tabs on which league wins the most interleague games. It seems contrived to me. And it's an unbalanced schedule because the match-ups are designed to pit rivals against each other.

I'll watch the games but I'd be more excited to see the Brewers play more against the Cubs, the Reds or their other division rivals.

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