Here I am watching the Yankees play the Mets for the 4th time this season (out of six total games), and I find myself wondering if the entire concept of inter-league play is still even worth it. Believe it or not, inter-league play has been going on in Major League Baseball for 15 seasons. I still remember game one of the inter-league experiment when the Dave Mlicki and the Mets shut out Yankees 6-0. Mets fans immediately claimed bragging rights because their Mets had shown the Yankees who was boss once and for all (ignoring, of course, the 2000 World Series). Then, the Yankees won the next two games to win the season series 2-1. I remember thinking how great inter-league play was, because it created match-ups we would normally have to wait (and pray for) until October to see. So, fifteen years later, is it still cool?
What’s Good About Inter-league Play?
There are lots of positives to inter-league play. As I mentioned before, you get to see match-ups that you normally wouldn’t be able to see until October. I will say one thing about Yankees vs. Mets. It’s still cool. I still like to IM my buddies (some are Mets fans for some reason) and make fun of them when the Yankees beat the Mets. I still get annoyed when the Mets beat the Yankees. I like the little bragging rights arguments. The games might lose their luster a little bit when the Mets finish under .500 three years in a row, but it’s fun none the less.
Mets vs. Yankees isn’t the only cool match-up we get to see. With the different divisions playing each other every year, you get to see your team face many teams you would normally not see. That helps to keep things fresh and new. This past Friday I got to go to the Stadium to see the Yankees play the Rockies. It was neat to see guys like Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi come to town (and all hit homers). It has also been nice seeing the Yankees play at newer stadiums like Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and historic Wrigley Field. These are stadiums you would normally not see the Yankees play in if there was no inter-league play, which makes these series quite special to those of us who are true fans of the game.
What’s Bad About Inter-league Play?
The more I think about it, what really kind of gets old and a little stale for me is that the Yankees play the Mets six times every season. I mean I understand there’s money to be made by playing two of these series instead of one, and both teams want their chance to sell out their stadiums for three games and sell popcorn, peanuts and beers to everyone and their mother (my mom always gets a beer when we take her). I just think it’s too much. When the Yankees took two out of three at the Stadium this year, it almost didn’t matter because they still had this series to play at Citi (not Shitty) Field July 4th weekend.
Furthermore, playing six games allows for the possibility that the teams would tie the season series, which is exactly what happened from 2005-2007. Each of those three seasons the Mets took two of three at Shea and the Yankees two out of three at the old Yankees Stadium. Frankly, that’s boring. Ties are boring. As they say, it’s like kissing your sister. Sure you had fun, but at the end of the day you’re left feeling a little grossed out, and overall dissatisfied. What fun is it if no one gets the season’s bragging rights?
Finally, these series do potentially take away from those dream World Series match-ups a little. In 2000, when the Yankees and the Mets played each other in the Fall Classic, it was great, but we’d already seen them play each other six times that season. A World Series match-up for the ages was almost just another series with the Mets. It just so happened that the championship was on the line. What makes the World Series special is that, before inter-league play, your team could only play each other for the championship. Now, your team could face someone they already faced, which can be a little boring.
What Should The League Do?
What the league should do is what they did the first two years of interleague play. In 1997, the Yankees and Mets played one series, and it was at Yankees Stadium. In 1998, the series was played at Shea. This was cool because the feeling for the Mets fans in 1998 was “ooh you may have gotten us in your stadium last year, but this year you have to come to our house!” It was a much better and more entertaining and exciting system. In 1999 they switched to the current six game schedule. Why not use those three extra games to get another team in town that the fans don’t always get to see? Why shove another Mets vs. Yankees three game series down our throats?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to on-field action. The two teams still want to beat each other, and so do the fans. These games will always sell out, and everyone will make a lot of money. This means they will always play six games, until one year when they decide to play nine. I’ll still watch all of them, because I happen to like seeing the Yankees pound the Mets. If at some point, however, it ever truly does lose it’s luster, I hope they go back to three games per season. Until that happens, I’m gonna go grab my Yankees jersey and watch the video of Luis Castillo dropping Alex Rodriguez’s pop-up in 2009 for a walk-off error. It’s just so fun!
image courtesy of: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
tulowitzki image courtesy of: http://www.graphicshunt.com
clemens image courtesy of: Gary Hershorn, AP Photo
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