Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Periodic Grouse About How Interleague Play Has to Go

George Carlin, author of (among other things) the legendary Baseball and Football routine, once remarked that "fat chance" and "slim chance," which you would think would have opposite meanings, actually mean the same thing.

Well, "This has to stop" and "This has to go" mean roughly the same thing.

Interleague Play has to stop. Interleague Play has to go. It's inconvenient and stupid. Or (profanity alert), as Carlin would have said, it's "stupid, full of shit, and fuckin' nuts!"

Thanks to a quirk of the Interleague schedule, the Yankees played a 4-game series with the Marlins -- 2 in Miami, then 2 in New York.

Really, if you're going to do stuff like this, just scrap the old Leagues entirely, and have an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference.

The following, of course, depends on no teams moving. Considering the current states of the A's and Rays, the current 30-team map cannot be guaranteed beyond the year 2020 or so.

Eastern Conference
Atlantic Division - 8
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Miami Marlins
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies
Tampa Bay Rays
Washington Nationals

Midwest Division - 7
Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays

Western Conference
Midwest Division - 7
Atlanta Braves
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins
St. Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers

Pacific Division - 8
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Los Angeles Dodgers
Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Seattle Mariners

Two conferences of 15 teams, each with a division of 7 and a division of 8. Granted, this would break up the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, but nobody outside their fanbases thinks it's much of a rivalry. When have they ever had big late-season matchups in the TV era, like Yankees-Red Sox or Dodgers-Giants? This would also render Brewers vs. either Chicago team a less frequent matchup. But most rivalries would be preserved, and some would even be strengthened, such as the Orioles with the Phillies and the Nationals, and a battle for the South with the Braves, Cardinals, Royals, Rangers and Astros.

Since the year 2000, the following has been true. The offices of the American League and the National League have been shut down. The office of President of each League is now purely ceremonial, and the duties consist almost entirely of awarding the League's championship trophy. (Each has an actual trophy, in addition to being able to raise a flag or "pennant.") And there's no longer separate umpiring crews for each League.

So why haven't the Leagues been scrapped entirely?

Two reasons. Both of them are monumentally stupid.

1. The National League team owners don't want to use the designated hitter. The "purity" explanation is stupid. "Baseball is played by 9 men, not 10." No, it's played by 25 men. You don't see a guy pitching one day, then playing shortstop the next 4 days, then pitching again, do you? And you have heard of pinch hitters and relief pitchers, haven't you? And the NL is not "pure": When the DH came to the AL in 1973, 7 of the 12 NL clubs, more than half, were playing home games on artificial turf. And you bozos never had a problem with that.

Grow up, morons: It's the 21st Century, and the only people who want to see pitchers bat are people who refuse to give up their manual typewriters and rotary dial phones.

Reason 1 is a symptom of Reason 2.

2. It's the way it's always been done, so why change? Because lights. Because integration. Because electric scoreboards. Because retractable roofs (which means that artificial turf is no longer necessary, Toronto!). Because radio. Because television. Because ESPN and the Internet mean that, if you live in the Eastern Time Zone, you no longer have to wait until Wednesday morning's paper to see evidence of that no-hitter that was pitched in the Pacific Time Zone on Monday night.

Either have separate Leagues, only playing each other in spring training (when the Florida/Arizona geographical divide messes things up anyway) and in the World Series, or don't.

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