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How the MLB could fix interleague play

May 22, 2009

So interleague play started today. Are you excited? I’m not.
Sure, it’s great to see the Brewers play the Twins, the Yankees and Phillies, the Mets and Sox, and it gives players like Mat Gamel an opportunity to play every day as a DH. But aside from those positive aspects, matchups like Toronto and Atlanta are not exactly thrilling to anyone involved. Oh, and Pirates versus White Sox? Yawn.
And that’s exactly the problem: interleague games inevitably are going to be either a novelty in baseball or just another series. Since the novelty factor only works for regional rivalries or intriguing superstar matchups, the novelty factor loses some credibility.
So as the Twins continue to swing white-hot bats against the Brewers and Manny Parra, I got to thinking about how interleague play can be improved or fixed. First of all, level the playing field. Is it really fair for the Crew to face the hot bats in Minnesota for two series over the next month while the Reds get to feast on the lowly Cleveland Indians for six game?
Or what about the Cubs and Padres stuck playing each other while fans of every other team enjoy the novelty that is interleague play?
Now, obviously the extra teams in the NL (16 to the AL’s 14) are the reason behind the need for the series between the Cubs and Padres. That imbalance, however, is exactly what could be used to make interleague play much more interesting. Let me show you what I mean.
There are 30 teams in the MLB. Naturally, that should mean 15 teams in each league. I’ve always thought if Texas can be in the AL West, why not Houston? Send the Astros to a new division and everything about the structure of the MLB makes more sense.
Each division then has five teams and each league 15. But what about scheduling? Won’t each league have a team that has to sit out? That’s where the improvement in interleague play comes into the picture.
Instead of dumping all the interleague games in a one-month span like the novelty that baseball makes it out to be, spread them out. In fact, have every team in the American League play every team in the National League. That way, there can be interleague matchups interspersed throughout the schedule to avoid any problems with an odd number of teams in the NL and AL.
If a team plays all 29 other teams for at least one three-game set, that takes just 87 games. Add three more three-game sets between regional interleague rivals like the Cubs and Sox and that leaves 66 remaining games.
Three more three-game series against each team in the division (36 games) to keep the unbalanced style schedule, and you have 30 remaining games. This is just enough to play the 10 other teams in the league for one more three-game set .
What’s more, the change to interleague play solves a couple other problems. If every team plays every other team, there is no need to determine home field advantage at the all-star game. Also, if teams play more games against the other league, the DH for the NL or pitchers batting for the AL is less of an issue in the World Series and interleague games.
Sure, it could create more roster issues for teams and makes scheduling a lot more complicated, but it can (and should) be done.
Besides, wouldn’t it be great to see the Cubs and Red Sox play every year? Or what about the Yankees and Dodgers? Brewers and Orioles? OK, so maybe everything about it isn’t that great.
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Categories: Uncategorized
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