In the baseball world, interleague play is like the designated hitter: It creates controversy and debate, and it doesn’t appear either is going away any time soon.
Ever since becoming part of the landscape in 1997, players, managers and coaches have never liked the interleague format, which is based more on marketing and ticket sales than scheduling integrity.
For example, they don’t understand the fairness in the Braves having to play two interleague series against the Yankees while the Nationals play them once, and the Marlins and Phillies not at all.
But next season, when the Astros move to the American League West to create two 15-team leagues and six five-team divisions, interleague play will be a daily occurrence, but maybe not with so many scheduling loopholes.
Major League Baseball hasn’t announced anything official, but it appears that in 2013, every team will play 20 interleague games with slight variation. That compares to this season, when 20 teams play 18 interleague games and the other 10 play 15.
Also, the new interleague schedule will likely have fewer rivalry games, going from six to four.
Also, with the leagues playing different rules, the schedule-makers have to figure out a way to keep AL teams from playing too many consecutive road series so that AL managers don’t have to deal with losing a productive DH at key times.
That would be especially important in April, when a DH is getting into a rhythm, or September, when a full lineup is key.
Could you imagine the Red Sox trying to nail down a playoff spot in the final month during a nine-game trip with David Ortiz on the bench?
Of course, that would be unfair. How is the schedule going to accommodate the changes?
Only baseball’s mathematics experts can answer that. But, it is safe to say that there will be less grumbling about the interleague schedule next season.
This and that: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was frustrated with umpires after his team was swept at home by the Nationals. Valentine’s position is understood, but for him to say that a good umpiring crew had a bad series and the all calls went the Nationals’ way only accents how frustrated he is. ... The Pirates, who play the Orioles this week, don’t score many runs, but they make good use of what they do get: The Pirates have scored the fewest runs in baseball, but have won 11 of 14 and they have the best record in baseball since May 25 (12-3). ... Interesting interleague stat: The Cardinals are 0-7 versus Cleveland in interleague series. ... Also, this is what makes baseball great: The White Sox and Marlins were the hottest teams in baseball during May. In June, each has slumped.... Good news for the lowly Cubs: Alfonso Soriano, thanks to a lighter bat, is hitting home runs at an incredible rate. Wonder if Soriano gets traded come July?