TIME TO PULL THE PLUG ON INTER-LEAGUE BASEBALL

I have never been a fan of inter-leaue baseball and my reasons are quite simple. Playing the other league is a privilege not a right. For example, if you are good enough, then your number will be called to participate in the All-Star game, and if your team is good enough, then they will appear in the World Series. Contriving false rivalries, where none exist, is not in the best interest of the game, and it undermines the competitive sanctity of baseball.

After the greedy owners and players robbed the the baseball world of an Expos-Yankees World Series in 1994, commissioner Bud Selig in his infinite wisdom, decided to use inter-league games as a novelty gimmick to bring fans back. The thing about novelties and gimmicks is that, eventually they will run their course, and you're left holding the bag of problems that you were stuck with in the first place. Just ask the Montreal Expos... oops I mean the Washington Nationals. Now there is actually talk of moving the Houston Astros to the American League, which would bring balance to the number of teams in each league. It would also ensure that there is at least one inter-league game played every day of the baseball season. Doing that would be a great disservice to the game, and someone should head this off at the pass as soon as possible. There are better ways to tweak the game instead of putting baseball purist such as myself through this abomination. How about we figure out a way to fix the economic disparity between teams, instead of prolonging this farce. If you want to realign and bring balance to the game, why not stick the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Angels and Tigers in a money division. Bringing about a salary cap, would of course be the most logical way to handle these problems, but the greedy players union ( who has always felt above the law) would never go for that. Every year like clockwork, watching the Yanks and Sawx figure out which future Hall Of Famer will fit their plans is enough to make me hurl my $5 footlong and chips.

To be fair, I am not necessarily anti-Bud Selig like most others. While I deplore the way he came into power, and I would love to send him a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth for all the waffling he has done through the years, he has made some strides in the game that I find quite admirable. The advent of the wild card has been a good thing for baseball. I remember when the notion of a wild card was floated around. I was vociferously opposed. My uncle David and I had spirited debates on this topic, and to be honest I was wrong. The wild card has been a positive step for the game. More teams in the hunt for postseason play, can only help the popularity of the game. Even though he was punked by Congress into setting some standards on steroid testing, I no longer have to watch an MLB Live video game, with players putting up ridiculous power numbers. Now great pitching has once again moved to the forefront of the game. I am even a fan of the winner of the All-Star game getting home field advantage throughout the World Series. It is much better than the system that was in place before.

As a fan growing up in an American League city, I have to admit that I prefer the National League brand of baseball. It is in it's essence, a pure version of the game. The complexities in the strategy are mind boggling and exhilarating. Unless you're a fan of slo-pitch softball, I can hardly think of a reason you would rather seen nine Goliaths taking their cuts, over a a strategic double switch or a sacrifice bunt to move runners along in a nip and tuck game in the late innings. Therein lies one of the many problems for inter-league baseball. Teams have been carefully constructed in the off season and Spring Training to win the title in their respective leagues. N.L teams are at a disadvantage when they play in A.L parks because they don't have another slugger sitting on the bench. A.L teams are at a disadvantage, because now they have to take one of their prime hitters and bench him in N.L parks. Besides if you really wanted the fans to experience the other's style of play, baseball would have made the DH bat in National League, while pitchers would take their cuts in American League stadiums. In fact I would propose that if you are going to continue with inter-league play, then why have two different leagues in the first place? The powers that be should form a setup like basketball and hockey, and have two different leagues based on geographical makeup.

In the beginning of this failed experiment, there was a setup that involved a yearly rotation between divisions. For instance the American League East would play the National League East. The Central division teams played each other, as well as the teams out west dueling with one another. Now it is based purely on making money, and which matchups will generate top dollar. The Milwaukee Brewers are the only team in the N.L Central that has to face Boston, New York and Tampa this year. The Brewers are in the midst of a dogfight for N.L Central supremacy. I think it is hardly fair that they have to battle these power house teams, while the Cardinals get off light with the Orioles and the Indians. If the Brew Crew loses by one game, I will be forced to wonder how much of an impact those game had on their season. Baseball has always been a game of tradition and balance, but the owners and the commissioner have shown they are willing to prostitute their traditions for the maximum dollar. The White Sox will play the mediocre Cubs six times, while division rivals Tigers and Indians will play three games apiece against the World Champion Giants, with no games against the Cubbies. To add insult to injury, Detroit has six consecutive road inter-league games, that will in effect banish Victor Martinez to the bench.

While watching the Yankees take on the Mets was appealing on some level in the beginning, it now draws a big yawn from me. It also diminished the value of the 2000 World Series when these two teams made the show. Ho hum, I have seen this act before, thank you baseball for robbing me of a true subway series between two teams that haven't seen each other. If you want to continue with gimmicks, how about we have a home run hitting contest to decide tied games after nine innings? That would surely be good for business, but I think we can all agree, that is not in the best interest of baseball, to have games decided in that fashion.

I think that Is what I hate the most. The World Series and All-Star games were so special and unlike anything else in sports. Baseball, so desperately wants to be football, but news flash, you are not football and you never will be in this country. There are tangible things you can do to bring back the excitement. Focus on the beauty of the game, and you will never go wrong. I can never express how much I miss two teams playing each other for the first time. Anyone who disagrees, play a DVD of the 1976 World Series between the Reds and the Red Sox. Or how about popping in a tape of the A's vs. the Dodgers in 1988. Bill Buckner anyone? Other than the Diamondbacks of 2001 and the Red Sox of 2004, most of today's World Series are missing something. That is because the impossible has now become the improbable. In the Hounds of the Baskerville, Sherlock Holmes said it best," Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains however improbable, must be the answer. I do not like to eliminate the impossible. The impossible often has a kind of integrity that the merits of improbable lacks." Smart guy

There is an 11.6% rise in attendance during these games, so obviously I am in the minority. I also know that inter-league is here to stay no matter what I think about it, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. As I write this I am looking at my two tickets for Monday and Tuesday's game at PNC Park, between the Orioles and Pirates. Wow, Just when I think I am out, they pull me right back in.

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Comments 7 comments

gksquire9 profile image

gksquire9 5 years ago from America

Jake, I'm glad you took the time to write this. However, I admit I stopped reading as soon as you mentioned you are a baseball purist. As romantic as that sounds, there is no place for fans like you anymore. That's not an insult, it's just the way it is. Baseball isn't interested in keeping the game as pure as you want anymore. Soon there will be instant replay for close plays at the plate and first. Pitchers will get forced to speed up their time between pitches, and like you mention, there will be more Inter-League, not less. But I don't dislike Inter-League because at the end of the day, while owners collect extra bucks, there are many casual fans that come to the park because of the novelty you disdain so much. I love baseball, but empty seats takes a lot of the fun and ambiance out of it.

Anyway, baseball, the one you love, is dead. It sucks, but it's true. While I am a life-long fan and still bore my wife with stats and standing and such daily, it just isn't the same game. My father-in-law, who grew up in love with the Mets, won't even talk to be about baseball because of the '94 strike. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to write this. I'm heading to a Marlins-Rays game tonight.


Jake Robinson profile image

Jake Robinson 5 years ago Author

Naw my hubpage brother, I am not insulted at all, well wait a tick...... nah I'm not insulted. Ya know it's funny, I have friends, family and my worst enemies call me a baseball purist, like I got the friggin plague or something. Like it is a bad thing. That's Ok, cause at the end of the day, I am the fan, baseball should be catering to, and I am going to be here no matter what. Strikes, steroids, tainted and confusing record books will never diminish my love for the game. You will never hear me say," Oh because they went on strike, I am not going to enjoy the game anymore." My love for the game is bigger than that. The game itself is bigger than that.

I am not sure if you are a Rays fan or a Marlins fan, but I am going to take a guess and say Rays fan. I only see like 4 Marlins fans in the stand at their games. I don't see many more at Rays games, but I do see more. Quick note, almost all Florida fans are casual fans. Let's be honest. These two franchises in particular have a hard time selling out postseason games. Traditional baseball cities, do not need a gimmick to bring more casual fans into the stadium. I am not saying this to be insulting. but baseball should really scrap baseball in Florida as well. Instead of driving your core away, baseball should subsidize and drop some of these second rate fans, who can't fill a stadium when they are good. Had you read further you would have seen that I have made some concession to changes in the game, that can hardly be considered pure. If I am the Marlins fighting for the N.L East with the Braves and Phils, I want no part of the Rays for the reasons I stated above. I also poked fun at my own hypocrisy at the end of the story, by stating I am going to not one, but two games at PNC Park between The Pirates and the Orioles. Even through all the gimmicks like inter-league I will be there. By the way Baltimore and Pittsburgh are two cities that don't need interleague to survive. They could use. They could use some help with financial disparity that they contend with in their respective divisions. But all they need is good teams and both of those cities would be rocking like back in the day. If either one of those teams, had the abilities and the of the Rays or Marlins, it would be sellouts everynight, regardless of novelty acts. The Marlins are coping with injuries, but when they are healthy they are a helluva team and the Rays are flat out scary, with one of the best managers in baseball. The Pirates have drawn 100,000 more fans than last year at this time, which goes to illustrate my point. Have a good product and you don't need interleague in alot of these cities. However, sadly Tampa and Miami are not two of them.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

I think the As sold out a few games this year and they were all against the Giants. Otherwise, their attendance is super poor. Now, I'm only slightly intrigued to see an inner city rivalry game. It reminds me of the Bay Series and the Earthquake! The thing that bothers me is that it screws up divisional races. The teams competing don't play the same teams. Chicago gets the Yankees and the Giants get the As. That's not fair. What if Chicago was any good and in a pennant race and they get a rivalry series against one of the top teams. Don't like it.


gksquire9 profile image

gksquire9 5 years ago from America

@Paul, if you're good, you're good and you should be able to compete with anyone. Because of Inter-League I have seen some great games. I saw A's-Giants at AT&T a couple years ago. I have been to several Marlins-Rays games, which are always fun. Anyway, I don't think the schedule is unfair. Every team needs to bring it every night if they want to win, not just during three weeks of the summer.

@Jake. First and foremost I am a Marlins fan. I live in Tampa so the Rays are my adopted team. I was a Rays season ticket holder last year, but I always root for the Marlins when they play. Both organizations are run extremely well within their fiduciary means. The Marlins will only get better (again) next year when they generate some revenue from their new stadium. However, as you alluded to, after the novelty of the new stadium wears off, the team will suffer again. There are three reasons Florida baseball doesn't work.

1) Both the stadiums, even the new one, are in crappy locations. 65% or higher of the Marlins fanbase travel from Palm Beach County. Putting the stadium in Miami proper will work for the first half of the first season, but if they are not competitive it's just a diamond in a turd. For the Rays most fans live in Tampa or elsewhere, and driving to weekday games on a narrow highway is horrible. Some complain about the Dome but...

2)Weather. In both Miami and Tampa the product is competing with the environment. Um, South Beach or SunLife Stadium???? There are a million things to do in Miami. Not as many in Tampa but we have great beaches, an active adult population, but it is freaking hot. Many people might wake up and say, "hey, it's hot. Wanna catch a game at the Trop, in the Dome or go to the beach?

3) Transplants. Both cities suffer from disloyal fanbases. Their are plenty of television regulars (in fact I think both markets were in the top 5 for TV ratings the last few years), but go to any home game and the crowds are heavy supporters of the Visitors. That turns off the casual home fan.

Other reasons like prices and unemployment (Tampa is sitting at 9.5% right now) also play into it, so I don't think that Inter-League is a bad idea. I like baseball and am glad their is a stadium near me. I like going to games with a crowd, so if the Astros are what puts butts in the Trop (it's not), I'm there.

That's all I got.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

@gksquire9 I hear you on bringing it every night. That's true. I still don't like it. Maybe play them, but have them excluded from counting toward division standings.


Jake Robinson profile image

Jake Robinson 5 years ago Author

At the end of the day, all you want as a fan, is your team to have an honest shot at winning your division. Random schedules are not in the best interest of the game, nor the spirit of competetion. While watching all the highlights from the previous set of inter-league games, the home teams won close to 70% of the games. As I stated in my piece, teams are not built to play the other league in road ballparks. To make this work, there has to be uniformed rules and rosters. The players union will never allow the DH position to die. Losing that precious salary, would be too much to bear. I can not see a scenario in which the N.L will ever play with the DH rule, but like alot of things in life, I could be wrong. At the risk of repeating myself, if baseball feels the need to keep this, then they should seriously consider abolishing the American League and The National League. Uniform the rules and base the divisions on geoographical makeup like basketball. I would still hate it, but at least it would be fair to all teams. Watching my beloved O's get smoked in Pittsburgh only perpetuated the bad taste in my mouth.

Squire, I could not agree more on the many options that lay in the hands of Floridians every day. Also your points on the crummy baseball stadiums is valid. But man I would love to have a team like the Rays. I would wach them play the Twins in Iraq.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

I applaud your obvious love of the game. I love baseball too. You are quite learned about baseball and it shows in this outstanding article.

I love inter-league play, especially the rotation of it where every few years you get to see some players and teams (and visit some parks) that you otherwise would not. I think it breaks up the somewhat monotonous playing each team 15 times.

Also I am in favor of SOME team going to the American League. I have always thought it an injustice that in the NL you have to beat out 15 other teams to get to the World Series but in the AL only 13. Thank you.

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