Or..."A Rant Against Interleague Play From Someone Who Likes It"
As a fan, I like interleague play. I really do. I admit that I'm one of those fans who doesn't really pay much attention to the National League, other than to keep a scanning eye on certain teams that friends of mine support. So, really, the only time I get to watch some NL teams is when the Twins play them during interleague play.
What's all the hype over this Jason Heyward fellow about? Is this Ubaldo Jimenez guy really all that? How's Chutley's hair doing these days? Is Johan still beautiful? These are questions I only learn during interleague games. Plus,I am amused when our pitchers have to hit. Admit it, you are too.
So, interleague play must be good, right? As one of Bud Selig's brainchildren (is that a word?), it must be awesome, right? Well, maybe it's awesome for generating revenue, but it's not awesome for baseball.
These games count, and thereby, they'll potentially have an impact on the standings at the end of the season. So while the Twins were struggling and dropping two games against the division-leading Braves (and their 37-27 record), the Tigers were sweeping the Pirates (23-40). Ok, so that kind of stuff happens - it's a long season, and things tend to even out. Even though the Tigers will face the Braves later, sadly, the Twins won't face the Pirates. My point, however, is that the Twins and Tigers, while locked in a division race, do not face the same teams. During their entire interleague schedule, the Twins face above-.500 teams for four series (ATL, COL, PHI, NYM) and the same sub-.500 team for two series (MIL). The Tigers, on the other hand, split above- and sub-.500 teams at three series each (LAD, NYM, PHI and PIT, WSH, ARI respectively). And two of the Tigers' "easy" series feature much worse teams than the ones the Twins play. Of course, this unfairness is present within all the divisions in both leagues. This unbalance could have implications within divisions for the championships and within the leagues for the wildcards.
k-bro's note: Honest, I wrote the previous paragraph before I read this post from Bill over at The Daily Something. Great minds...blah, blah, blah. You should read what he wrote too, because he explains this whole mess with much more detail -- he has charts and everything. Ok, back to my own drivel...
And why don't the Twins get to face the Pirates or the Nationals like the Tigers do? Because they've got a "natural rival." Which is the biggest line of bull ever -- at least for Minnesota.
When this whole interleague thing started, MLB decided that certain teams should have natural rivals to make things interesting for fans of teams that are close to one another. So they decided to group a couple teams and make them play each other for two series at home for each. I can kind of see how it would be fun for the Yankees v Mets, White Sox v Cubs, A's v Giants, and Dodgers v Angels because those teams are within the same market, and fans for both teams live near each other. But, really, do the Mariners and Padres have a rivalry? Boston and Philly? Whatever. It's really odd that not all teams have one. And what even more crazy is that Kansas City and St. Louis usually are natural rivals, but not this year.
As far as the Twins v Brewers goes, it's dumb. I ain't got no beef with the Brewers. In fact, if the Twins didn't have to play them twice a year every year, I wouldn't really think about them much at all. Milwaukee's nice and all, so why would I feel any kind of rivalry toward their team? (Keep in mind that I consider myself a Vikings fan, but I'm probably one of four who doesn't have a beef with the Packers either. So, yeah, take that for what you will.) I do admit that it makes for some fun road trips, but it's not really a rivalry.