Posted at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2005
by David Zingler
I am going to piggy back on Mr. Collins' latest entry. He hit the nail on the head. Sure, a Padres/Indians series hardly captures your imagination, but it does (as Bob pointed out) expose fans of each team to a new group of players. And thatís a good thing.
It's a shame fans in Minnesota have never gotten to see Barry Bonds and other National League stars of the past. Growing up, the archaic system didnít allow me the chance to watch many of the stars of the 1980s -- Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis, Andre Dawson, etc. -- in person. While Mr. Collins' generation missed out on Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, etc.
Why? Well, I have yet to hear a good reason.
The Interleague bashing types or ďpuristsĒ need to get over themselves Ė post-haste. The Dodgers arenít in Brooklyn, hotdogs donít cost a quarter and a road trip out west doesnít mean a series in Kansas City anymore. The DH, I can see. Personally, I like it (probably because I grew up with it), but you can make a rational argument against it.
Their anti-Interleague stance however, is based on a romanticized, nostalgic view of their childhoods and the past in general. Being sentimental is nice, but I need logic.
I think 'purists' are a dying breed. me, i am a fan of a lot of 'old school' baseball things, but after thirty plus years... get over the DH people.
i like that the dh really adds contrast to the two leagues, and really does make the style of play totally different. this makes interleague and the world series more enjoyable too.
i am certainly not a fan of things like instant replay, or the loud, obnoxious pop music, and tv ads during the half innings... but many changes have been for the better. witness the expanded playoffs... without them (and the wild card team they allow in) the last two octobers would be lacking two of the greatest baseball moments in MLB history. or take the 'new school' addition of the alternate uniform. sure, it's sad when teams have 5 or 6 jerseys, but anyone care to ask which is the best selling twins jersey? that's right, those wonderful blue alternates.
i think generally, purists long for a game that was played in the northeast only, and loathe the fact that night baseball is here to stay... but they should really take stock. they won the war over astroturf (which i am convinced will be viewed as a joke by future generations). they won the war against shameless marketing on uniforms and the bases (for now)... just because LA and Denver, and Minneapolis have teams is not a reason to mourn 'whats been lost' MLB is more popular than ever.
I just want to say for the record that I was at the game in which the first DH came to the plate in the American League.
BTW, I always note that none of the purists in Minnesota recommended sending the Twins back to Washington.
Oh, by the way, you're right that the anti-interleaguers seem to suggest something has been lost by it. What? Purity? Of what?
Someone said to me today, for example, that the problem with interleague play is now the teams competing with each other don't play the same teams. Apparently, this is a bad thing if the Yankees play the Braves while the Twins play Colorado.
There isn't a balanced schedule in the American League anyway. Let's say the Twins and the Yankees are competing for the wild card spot. They're not playing the same teams. The team that plays in the weaker division will have the easier schedule.
I don't know about you, but I love MLB.Com's Gameday app. Remember when the only time we got boxscores was when the Sporting News came out? It wasn't that long ago that newspapers only put the local team's boxscore in.
Statistics? Now you can get them within a second of the AB. They used to only come out in the Sunday paper and those were only updated through the previous Friday.
And it wasn't that long ago that the only baseball on TV was on Saturday afternoon. Now I can see any game in the majors. I'm telling you, it's Iowa...err... heaven.
You want something worth fighting for, purists. Go to the school board and get those aluminum bats out of the game.
Interleague play not only creates greater schedule imbalances between teams in separate divisions, but there are imbalances within the division as well. If the AL Central race comes down to a couple games, with the loser going home, that could be important. Why support a system that creates even more unfairness than there has to be. (Btw, I could do with fewer intradivision games, too.)
Besides, in these days of widespread cable TV, most people have a chance to follow both leagues if they really want to. You got a few games a week on ESPN, the Braves on TBS, the Cubs on WGN, the Fox Saturday game, and the opportunity to see everybody on the Extra Innings package if you care to subscribe. Did you really need the Giants to come to Minnesota to have a chance to watch Barry Bonds? In the last 5 years, I think I've seen Bonds as much as any player who hasn't played for the Twins.
I don't hate interleague. I just think we could cut back on it. We don't need a home/away set with Milwaukee every year. One each season at alternating parks would be enough. Do we have 6 interleague series each season? I'd be fine with 2 or 4. Or else do away with the league distinctions in all but name and playoff bracketing, and create a balanced schedule covering all 30 teams.
Again, I have to say... so what?
There is no tie-breaker in Major League Baseball based on record vs. other teams. So what if the balance within the division is off?
Look, the Minnesota Twins -- and their fans -- are the recipients of this unfair system, and nobody says a word about it. Why?
Last year the Twins got to the playoffs Why? Because they play in the Central Division and had to play only one other team -- The White Sox -- with a winning record. Oakland missed out by a single game.
Oakland, on the other hand had to play in a division in which two other teams had winning records. And has anyone notoced yet that there's only 4 teams in the Western Division. Where's the concern about imbalance there?
In 2003, the Twins won the Central Division with 90 wins and went to the playoffs. Seattle, by contrast, won 93 games and stayed home. Where's the concern about fairness and balance there?
In 2002, the Twins won the division and went to the playoffs with 94 while two teams in tougher divisions won 93. Why? Because Minnesota played in a division in which the majority of their divisional games (Chicago was the only team that had a .500 record and they had ONLY a .500 record) were against poor ballclubs.
So when you go to the Metrodome and they say, "and now you're back-to-back-to-back Central Division champions," please remember the reason they say it and you applaud: an imbalance in the schedule.
Is it worth whining over? No, that's the system.
And somehow I doubt there are many Twins fans who want them to take those "Central Division banners" down because of it.
PS: Khalil Green is better than any shortstop in the history of the Minnesota Twins. You ought to go see him play if you get a chance.
I love interleague play. It's really a treat to see teams we never play. It's fun to actaully see the different matchups instead of dreaming about it---it's almost like a baseball fantasy.
I've seen Khalil Greene play. Obviously you didn't need the Twins to travel to San Diego to watch him, either. Again, anybody who hasn't had the chance to see Greene play must not have cable TV. And in that case, they're not seeing many Twins games these days, either.
I would be glad to see fewer intradivision games and a more balanced schedule again, too. Not only am I sick of seeing the other AL Central teams 19 times a year, I'm sick of Boston/NY happening every other week, too. I'd like to see the coastal teams come into Minnesota more often. I'd like to see more balance and fairness restored to the schedule again. Yes, the Twins have enjoyed the benefits of the system as it's been in place the last few years. It doesn't mean we're bound to support keeping that system in place indefinitely.
I've yet to see a compelling reason for why 3 weeks of the season should be turned into a sideshow exhibition that knocks the schedule out of whack even more than Selig's tinkering already has done. We get to see players we already get to see on cable TV? It's OK to support more corruption of the schedule because some corruption already exists, anyway?
Why 6 series in 3 weeks? What's so special about a home/away series with Milwaukee each year? If you could trade interleague games for more visits from the AL coastal teams, would you take that swap? Or, alternatively, why not do away with the distinctions between the leagues altogether?
Well, like I said, I have the MLB Extra Innings package on Dish so yeah, I COULD watch Greene play, but I hadn't because the Padres weren't playing a team I'm interested in. That's one of the reasons I like interleague play; it makes you be interested in teams and ballparks you otherwise might not be.
However, I'm ready for my teams to come home from the West Coast. I've enjoyed watching the Tribe -- in yc ae -- play San Diego and San Francisco. But I'm ready to get to bed earlier again.
call me old fashioned, but I haven't officially seen someone play unless it's been in person. not that you can't learn as much or more by watching on TV, but you can't substitute for the real thing...........