Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Unbalance of Power

Does anyone get excited about interleague play anymore? I know I sure don't. It usually isn't even that competitive. The American League dominates and the only thing that ever brings any excitement is when an American League pitcher either gets a hit or gets hurt. It's two weeks of the season that I just check out. Wake me up when it's over. I would dislike it less if it wasn't hyped so much. Major League Baseball tries to make such a big deal of Bud Selig's brain-child that I wish more and more each season that it would just go away. The geographical “rivalries” are kind of cool, but they're all manufactured too. The Yankees and Mets have never been rivals. Does anyone really care who wins the Marlins-Rays Citrus Series? How about the I-70 Rivalry between the Royals and Cardinals? Not me. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have not played a single game at Yankee Stadium since interleague play began in 1997. That was a huge (and real) rivalry and yet nobody seems to care about it anymore. So how do we fix it? Simple. Just scatter an interleague series in each team's schedule. Baseball is the only sport in which teams from one league/conference do not regularly play teams from the other one. Granted it's the only sport that has different rules for each league, but still. What would be so bad about an interleague series in September? For all we know, it could be a World Series preview. Remember during the 2007 NFL season when the Giants and Patriots played in the season finale, only to have a rematch in Super Bowl XLII? That was great. So why won't baseball do it?

Want to know the best part about interleague play throughout the season? The leagues and divisions could be even. No more six-team NL Central. The AL West would have five teams like everyone else. Here's my proposition: make the Brewers go back to the American League Central Division and move the Royals to the AL West. The way it is currently set up is ridiculous. The five-team divisions play each other 72 times with every team playing the other four 18 times each. In the AL West, however, every team plays the other three 19 times each, for a total of 57 divisional games. The NL Central isn't even uniform in this area—some teams play 77 divisional games, some play 78, and the rest play 79. How does that make sense? Having uneven divisions messes up everyone else's schedule, too. I'll use the AL Central Champion Twins as an example. Last season, the Twins played their normal 72 divisional games and 18 interleague games, just like everyone else. Because of the uneven divisions, however, the Twins played the AL East a total of 32 times and the AL West a whopping 40 times, more than any other non-AL West team. On the last day of the season, the Twins were tied with the Tigers for the AL Central lead and the last spot in the playoffs. The Tigers had played the West and the East 36 times each. So while they were tied, they hadn't played the same schedule. I won't debate which division is better or worse, but in order for a sport to be fair, every team should have an equal chance to win. By not playing the same teams, the Twins had an unfair advantage over the Tigers (you could also argue that the Tigers had the easier schedule, but I'm using the Twins because they won the one-game playoff and thus, the division).

One of the biggest reasons the Brewers moved from the American League to the National League in 1998 was because Major League Baseball decided it wouldn't make sense to have an odd number of teams in each league because they would have to either expand interleague play, or give teams more days off. I think the season is long enough as it is (too long, really), so the only way to go is to expand interleague play. Here's how each team's schedule should be set up: 72 divisional games, 30 games against each of the other two divisions (15 home, 15 away), and 30 games against a certain division from the opposite league. No more forced interleague “rivalries” unless it happens to be the year the Cubs play the White Sox or the Angels and Dodgers face off. I might start caring about the Freeway Series if it wasn't shoved down my throat every season. If it were done my way, every team in a division would play the exact same schedule. Surely this couldn't be the worst thing to happen to baseball. Maybe one day we can fix Selig's other blunder—the All-Star Game deciding home-field advantage in the World Series.


  1. I know I've asked this question before, but how was home-field advantage decided before the change? Did it alternate?

  2. Yes, they used to alternate between the AL and NL, which is also stupid. There is no reason for the team with the best record in baseball to potentially not have home field because of dumb luck.

  3. Joel Sherman had an idea to make it about records. First place teams in one league played first place teams in the other, and so on. YOu would need balanced divisions to do that.

    The Mets would never give up their three games against the Yankees. Other than opening day, it's the only series they are guaranteed to sell out each year.


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