Saturday, May 21, 2005

WHY INTERLEAGUE PLAY IS BAD FOR BASEBALL

I'm sure this weekend I would get the votes of most Cubs fans on why interleague is bad for baseball. After all the Cubs are playing 3 games against the team with currently , the best record in baseball, meanwhile the Redbirds are playing those same 3 games agaisnt the team with the worse record in baseball. First of all let me make this point, I didn't hear any Cubs fans whining about this in 2003 when the Cardinals were playing the Red Sox and Yankees, while the Cubs were playing Tampa Bay and Toronto. The fact of the matter is in both cases it blows, and the reason is because the schedule is unbalanced, and unfair. Really it is not so much interleague play that is bad, but the fact the divisions are not lined up evenly and this rivalry series stuff is impossible to play, and still have a schedule that is equal and balanced for all teams.

A few months ago, when I was off work for some time with a foot problem I read Bob Costas book "Fair Ball: A Fans Case for baseball", it was a classic read, one I highly recommend for any baseball fan. In this book he makes these arguments, as well as arguing against the wid card. He also suggests two World Series games played in the day time, like the old days. It is a great book, and Costas would get my vote for Commisioner of Baseball. Anyway his solution for balancing the schedule, while still having interleague play, and really when you think about it it is so simple a solution. First of the NL Central has 6 teams, while the AL West has 4, as long as this is the case the schedule can't be balanced. He suggests the Houston Astros moving from the NL Central to the AL West. The reason for the Astros moving is really because that would leave the Cards, Cubs in the same division, the Pirates and Reds who both have long standing National League tradition (much longer than the Astros), and the Brewers. Milwaukee is much closer geographically to the other 4 cities and since they just switched leagues a few years back, it would be unfair to make them switch back. Plus moving the Astros to the AL West instantly creates a intra-state, divisional rival with the Texas Rangers. So the divisions would look like this...

NL West
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Las Angeles Dodgers
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Diego Padres
5. Arizona Dimaondbacks

NL Central
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Cincinnatti Reds
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Milwaukee Brewers

NL East
1. Atlanta Braves
2. NY Mets
3. Florida Marlins
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Washington Nationals

AL West
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Oakland A's
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (how big of a joke is that)
4. Texas Rangers
5. Houston Astros

AL Central
1. Chicago White Sox
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Minnesotoa Twins
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers

AL East
1. NY Yankees
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Baltimore Orioles

So we have 6 divisions with 5 teams in each division. First of all like was said earlier you can't balance the schedule and have these rivalry series, because as long as that happens the Cubs will play the Sox, and the Cards will play the Royals. It stinks now, and will stink even worse if some day the Royals become the best team in baseball, and the White Sox the worse. Balance the schedule with interleague heres how...Each team playes 18 games against the other 4 teams in their division 9 on the road and 9 at home or 3 -3 game series. So thats 18 x4= 72 games. Then you play 6 games against the other 10 teams in your league 3 on the road and 3 at home. 10 x 6= 60 games. Then you play 6 games against the 5 teams in a division from the other league. Again 3 games at home and 3 on the road. Certainly you rotate the divisions you play, alternating who plays at home. So if the Cards play at home against the Yankees this season in 2008 we will go to New York. So all the fans of all the teams will see all the other teams every 6 years. So 5 x 6 = 30 games. So we have 72 divisional games + 60 league games + 30 interleague games = 162 games. With every team in your division playing the exact same schedule. Pretty simple really. Plus it creates a schedule that plays all 3 game series. No more of this 2 games then a cross country flight to play 4 game series crap. It really makes alot of sense and is so simple.

My next post I will give Costas ideas, as well as mine as to why the Wild Card is even worse for baseball.