2011 Interleague Play is Gone, Sports Bloggers Opine on Whether It Should Go for Good

14 Years Later, Does It Still Work?

Baseball fans making their way through middle school and junior high don’t know of a world without Interleague play. OK, now that I’ve experienced my “damn I feel old” moment of the day, let’s turn to the idea itself now that another “season” of American vs. National has come and gone.

Interleague play made its debut in 1997. Never before had teams from the American and National Leagues faced one another during the regular season with the results counting towards their standings. At the time, it was considered both novel and nonsensical…controversial and creative…unwelcome and unconventional…inspiring and ill-advised. The very notion of Interleague play created a divided camp with passionate factions inheriting both sides. Fourteen years later, has the tide turned in either direction?

We at The Legend turned to a few of our fellow Internet sports scribes and asked them to weigh in. Our informal straw poll sought to cherry-pick folks from multiple regions and fan bases to get a semi-objective lay of the land. Our question was simple: What are your thoughts on Interleague play? Good for the game or a waste of time? Fun or lame? Stay or go?

Our only requirement was to keep responses to 100 words or less (for fear of melting the brains of you fine readers). Here’s what our experts had to say (thanks to those who found some time on a holiday weekend to pontificate). Everyone else, share your thoughts in the comments.

Author: Larry B.
Blog: Larry Brown Sports
Follow @LBSports
Verdict: For
In their words…
I’m a huge fan of Interleague play, and it’s because it’s great for the fans. Interleague play allows the opportunity to see match ups we wouldn’t see outside the World Series. Yankees-Mets, Dodgers-Angels, Cubs-White Sox? You telling me that doesn’t make baseball more enjoyable? Or how about when the Cubs visited Fenway Park for the first time since 1918 — what baseball fan doesn’t get excited to see that? I realize it’s a challenge for teams because of the DH issue, but it’s a worthwhile venture. Baseball is a fun sport intended to make our lives more enjoyable. Interleague play enhances the fan experience and makes the game more fun; it is one of Bud Selig’s best accomplishments.

Author: Michael B.
Blog: Mets Blog
Follow @michaelgbaron
Verdict: Against
In their words…
Simply put, if Major League Baseball is to continue to adopt the unbalanced schedule, I think interleague play should be scrapped. Yes, it’s fun and it raises the level of intrigue, and it probably provides an attendance boost during the regional rivalry games. But it takes away from intraleague play which could undoubtedly play a greater role in the outcome of the Wild Card, as it’s contenders would play each other with more frequency, and certainly more than the six or seven times per season some intraleague opponents meet.

Author: Craig L.
Blog: Waiting for Next Year
Follow @WFNYCraig
Verdict: Against
In their words…
Even before Interleague play started this year and Fausto Carmona hurt himself running to first base, I was ready for this part of the game to disappear. It was fun for awhile, but there should have been an expiration date on the interleague experiment. In the end, I miss the extra matchups for the Cleveland Indians against the American League East. Unfortunately, from a business standpoint interleague is still a big hit business-wise as ticket sales are great when the Indians play the Pirates and Reds even when the teams aren’t particularly good. So, I would end it if it was up to me. The fun isn’t enough to justify the unbalanced schedules and having to watch American League pitchers bat.

Author: Erie’s Scribe
Blog: Right here, baby
Follow: Hit CS @locgblog
In their words…
Thems interleagers have been around for quite awhile now huh? Interleague is okay with me, but really I could give a sh** either way. The Tribe has a couple of natural geographic rivals in the NL, the Reds and the Bucos, so we’re guaranteed some games that create regional interest. The games are in the middle of the season, so by the time the postseason push comes I don’t remember that getting swept by the Giants in SF when the Tribe had to go DH-less, thus putting Hafner on the bench, might have had a big influence on the final standings. And, I like seeing AL pitchers try and take some hacks at the plate sometime. When those hacks produce things like this, who can complain?

Author: Ryan O.
Site: The Good Men Project
Follow @rwohan
Verdict: For
In their words…
The baseball season is really boring. And that’s fine. Try doing something else 162 times and keeping my attention past your tenth try. It won’t happen. That’s why interleague play still matters. The MLB season feels like a record that never stops spinning, and all that changes is the weather. Whatever the competitive problems, interleague play at least gives us something different for a few weeks. The record keeps spinning, but for a little while it makes a new sound.

Author: Eric S.
Blog: Amazin’ Avenue
Follow @AmazinAvenue
Verdict: Against

I’m not inter-league play’s biggest advocate. Apart from the inequity of division rivals playing different sets and strengths of opposition, my preference is simply that teams play their intra-league, inter-division opponents more often. As a Mets fan, I want to see the Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Cubs more than twice a year. I don’t really care about the Tigers or the Rangers or the Athletics. Finally, even though television and free agency has blurred the line separating the American and National leagues, to some extent I still feel that inter-league play cheapens the World Series. I like the idea that when the champions of each league battle for the greatest prize of all that they’re guaranteed not to have met in an otherwise meaningless series earlier in the season.

So, what’s the verdict? Basically, Splitsville. A few yays, a couple nays and an I don’t really give a f. I fall more with Eric and Craig. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t mind seeing Interleague play disappear like Kaiser Soze. It was fun for awhile, but the novelty’s gone you know what I mean, baby? It’s not you, it’s me. OK, it is kinda you…

However, I can’t come up with a good reason for MLB to share that same opinion. Despite the scheduling inequities and slew of irrelevant and completely meaningless and devoid-of-intrigue (intrigue being the very thing that so many proponents of Interleague tout, even though said interesting games represent a tiny sliver of the overall schedule) match-ups, Interleague has likely done more harm than good for the business of baseball.

So, for now, it seems Interleague play isn’t going anywhere. Time to embrace the pure, traditional goodness that is Rays/Nats!

Filed Under: Uncategorized


About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.

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