This coming weekend Major League Baseball will showcase the first interleague games of this year’s schedule. You can expect several opinion pieces, both in support and against the idea of American League teams playing National League teams, to be published in the next few days. However, I doubt any opinion will be as frank and honest as Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s.

The appeal of interleague play has worn off for me. It was a brilliant idea to start with, but it has run its course. I’ll probably get chewed out for it, but I think a lot of people feel the same way. And that you can quote me on. They ought to look into it. I’m on the (Commissioner’s) committee, and I’ll probably get a phone call, but I don’t really care. That’s totally ridiculous.

And let me emphasize this, it originally was a tremendous idea. But it’s not really doing what it’s supposed to do. There are no rivalries for most of the teams. I’m sure it helps the White Sox a little bit when they host the Cubs, but it doesn’t help at Wrigley Field. The Cubs pack it most of the time anyway. The Yankees also pack their place most of the time.

It has run its course. I just don’t like it. First of all, at some point we have to get baseball back to the same set of rules. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about it. No other sport plays different rules. I don’t care what they do. Whatever way they go is fine with me, but the rules should be the same. I was on the committee. I don’t know if I still am.

Hey Jim, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

To me, the bigger issue here is that teams competing against each other for a Wild Card playoff spot, have different schedules, and interleague play emphasizes this in ways that regular division play may not. It makes absolutely no sense to me that teams whose overall records decide who goes to the playoffs and who doesn’t have different strength of schedules. What would the problem be with putting all the teams together and letting the top four advance? Even if the idea of the Westernmost teams playing the Easternmost teams more regularly presents logistical problems, I can’t see how anyone could argue that removing divisions and eliminating interleague play wouldn’t be the fairest approach.

As for interleague play on its own, I agree with Leyland. What started out as a novel idea in 1997 has since turned into a gimmick that decreases the importance of a series because its against teams that essentially aren’t competing against each other.

And The Rest

Jorge Posada wronged Joe Girardi in another life. That’s how far back this ongoing feud goes.

It’s important to celebrate Civil Rights, just don’t use those civil rights to talk about civil rights.

Tony LaRussa does not take criticism sitting down, at least not from someone associated with the Cincinnati Reds.

The Kansas City Royals time machine goes forward, not backwards.

Daisuke Matsuzaka’s up and down season will now take a trip to the Disabled List.

Baseball players have ninety-nine problems, but a fastball ain’t one.

Lego portraits!

Jurors are rethinking their verdict for the Barry Bonds trial.

Yesterday, in baseball awesomeness:

And finally, Paul Brothers catches de taste of Roberto Alomar:

Comments (14)

  1. “I can’t see how anyone could argue that removing divisions and eliminating interleague play would be the fairest approach.”

    Wouldn’t?

  2. I was going to comment a while back about the expanded playoffs – that they need to get rid of interleague play before this.

    In 2006, the year when the AL Central cleaned house and the Tigers went all the way to the world series – the top 3 teams from that division went a combined 45-9 in interleague play.

  3. The double negative strikes back.

    I think Jays fans in particular aren’t going to like interleague play these days, since they had their natural rival ripped away from them to go to a city that can’t even sell tickets on $1 hot dog night.

  4. Here is my 2006 AL wildcard standings based solely on W-L% vs. AL with the actual records in brackets :

    LAA 92-70 (89-73)
    MIN 90-72 (96-66)
    DET 90-72 (95-67)
    TOR 88-74 (87-75)
    CHW 86-76 (90-72)
    TEX 82-80 (80-82)
    BOS 79-83 (86-76)

    I only did the math for the top 3 teams in each division. Paints a different picture, doesn’t it? The Twins go from a 96 to a 90-win team, and are tied with the Tigers for the division. Also, Boston is a losing team and the Rangers are a winning team.

  5. Incredible what a difference it makes.

  6. It was stupid enough that they went to the divisional system in the first place, and the fact two different leagues play two different sets of rules is even more absurd. Baseball’s proud sense of “once we’ve done something, we don’t like to reverse it for 4 decades” is a bit overdone.

  7. That Dave Zirin article is dead on, as always. I’m not sure there’s another sport that uses civil rights as a selling point more than baseball, yet we have Chief Wahoo, the Tomahawk Chop and fans in Atlanta booing someone who stands up for civil rights on civil rights night, while Selig slinks out the back door. Good on Santana and hopefully some PLAYERS will eventually stand up for civil right, and more broadly human rights. I would love to see a player on the Cleveland Indians speak out against the racism in their logo and nickname. In the NFL, wouldn’t it be amazing to see a player boycott playing for the Washington Redskins on a count of their racist nickname. If that sort of thing started happening, you might see more systematic change.

  8. Travis,
    Empirical observation would lead me to believe today’s current crop of athletes are dumber, more ignorant and self congratulatory than ever before, and could not give 2 shits about anyone’s rights. Not one union can even get on board when it comes to protecting their own players and livelihoods (NHL with head shots, MLB with steroids, NFL with Head shots). I know rules have been implemented, but the union does so kicking and screaming.
    And anytime you have a player willing to speak out about an issue in the US of A, they are ostracized for it, so I doubt minorities would bring anything up. Rather, raging redneck retards like Rocker and Scott are applauded for the delusions.

  9. The other thing that pisses me off about interleague is in the NL rules games, it automatically puts the AL teams at a disadvantage. The NL team’s hitters have some experience hitting, whereas the AL teams do not.

    And it makes no sense to have so many damn interleague games, either. The Blue Jays play 17 of them? That’s 10% of the entire schedule against National League teams. I can see maybe 2 or 3 series, but this is complete overkill.

    Those 17 games can make or break a season, and I just can’t see why MLB would rather have that than say the Blue Jays play another series against the Tigers or the Mariners. Balance the damn schedule, already!

  10. I’ve always hated stupid articles about how poorly the Jays play in interleague play compared to others. Maybe if we didn’t have to play the Braves and the Phillies all the time we’d be better.

    The individual team does matter.

  11. love the ball washing in the robbie interview!

  12. Except Inter League play isnt hurting the AL with their pitchers having to bat. I believe the AL is dominating overall, at least in the last 5 years or so.

  13. Eric, you’re right – since interleague play in 1997, the AL has 1,808 wins and the NL has 1,652 wins. Damn it, there goes my rationale of the National League having the advantage.

  14. Yeah, while an NL team DHs a Wes Helms to your David Ortiz, I’m sure the tiny bunting advantage from extra pitcher’s BP makes a huge difference…

    Maybe Joe Girardi’s still mad that Posada took his job in 1998.

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