This weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies lost two out of three to the Boston Red Sox. And once again, I lost my patience with the idea of Interleague play.
Of course, it’s very easy for me to say as the Phillies have a tumultuous relationship with this regular season “novelty”. Since 2005, the Phils have gone 30-51 against American League teams. So you will excuse me if I don’t get too excited about seeing the Yankees, Blue Jays and Twins in June.
Even when the Phillies do win against an AL team, I feel it to be an empty victory. The whole idea of Interleague play was devised in the post-’94 strike world. Just like expanding the divisions and adding two Wild Card teams in to the postseason mix, Interleague play was created to make fans forget the about nastiness that cancelled a World Series and bring the people back to the greatest game in America.
I admit, I was intrigued at first. The Phillies playing at Fenway Park and Camden Yards in June? That was amazing. What did I care? The Phillies stunk in 1997. Anything to make their games a little more interesting was fine by me. Now it is 2010 and it is safe to say, baseball is back in full swing in America and it is time to put Interleague play out to pasture.
In the 162-game marathon that is an MLB season, every game does in deed count. Divisions and playoff spots are determined on the last day, sometimes extending to 163 games. Teams should be rewarded a trip to the postseason by being the best in their own LEAGUE. Tacking on a few more wins against a team 3,000 miles away and in a different league is about as worthless as the results of Spring Training games. Whatever happens in those eighteen games can make a big impact once late September rolls around. Not that I believe the Tampa Bay Rays will miss the postseason this year, but what if there is a small one game difference to determine if they move on to October? Everyone will look back to the one loss against the Houston Astros on Friday. The Astros?! Should that really count? How exactly does that directly impact American League play?
In my opinion, Interleague play should be limited to one or two games. Expand the All-Star break. During that time, have each team play their nearest geographical rival in one exhibition game. However, let it truly count for something. Terminate the idea of the All-Star Game determining the home field advantage in the World Series of the winning league. Instead, have these games decide which league gets home-field advantage. Tally up the wins, whichever league has the most victories gains home field. Everyone wins.
The excitement of October for me was not only from the anticipated end to another long season, but the idea of seeing an opposing team from another league, playing on the biggest stage, in an alien ballpark. Witnessing the Orioles and Blue Jays play in Veterans Stadium was like living in some Lost-style alternate universe with pitching mounds disappearing and the 700 Level being taken over by The Others. It was exciting. It was mysterious.
Now, that thrill is gone. October just feels like June. Want to bring even more people back to baseball? Get rid of Interleague play.
About the Author
Written by Bryan Sargent
Bryan Sargent is a lifelong Phillies fan, currently residing in the least hospitable city for such a person as himself, New York City. This coming January he will be attending Phillies Phantasy Camp in Clearwater, FL. He is currently documenting the entire process on his blog (http://www.bryansargent.com). You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @BTSargent.