Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Can Still Bitch About It, Though

SI's John Donovan explains why interleague play isn't going anywhere:
Here are three reasons why. And, really, this is just one reason bent three different ways:

• In Cincinnati on Saturday, 42,023 fans crammed into Great American Ball Park to see the Reds host the cross-state Indians. It was the Reds' second sellout of the season, their first since Opening Day.

• In Arlington, Texas on Saturday, 38,534 saw the Rangers dump the cross-state Astros. It was the Rangers' second-biggest crowd of the year, behind their home opener against the Orioles.

• In all, some 631,458 fans rolled through the turnstiles for Saturday's 15 interleague games (and one National League leftover), the sixth-largest ticket sales day in baseball history.

Despite the protestations of traditionalists, interleague play is sticking around because it is an unqualified hit with a huge majority of fans. And that means it's a money-maker for the clubs.
Yeah, and Tuesdays with Morrie sold 11 million copies, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck.


Daniel said...

I won't speak for "Tuesdays with Morrie," but I do enjoy interleague play. It's interesting to see your favorite team play unfamiliar teams. How often, as an Angels fan, will I get to see Chipper Jones or Jose Reyes come to town?

I understand that it messes with the competitive balance a little bit, but how statistically significant is it? One game maybe? Even if it is significant, it's fun to watch. And I'll take something that's fun to watch that may be slightly less than fair any day of the week.

(If the Angels lose out to the A's for the AL West because they played the Dodgers and the Mets while the A's played the Giants and the Marlins, my answer may be subject to change.)

Craig Calcaterra said...

I'll be honest: I have no real logic to throw at interleague play. Yeah, the schedule imbalance bothers me a bit, but you're right, it probably doesn't matter most of the time.

I'm modern and forward thinking and all of that, but the distinction between the leagues is one of my few irrationally traditionailst beliefs. The world made a bit more sense to me when the AL was here and the NL was there. Not that baseball needs it, but it was one additional reason why MLB was better than the NFL or NBA. Super Bowl? Pfft. Half the time the two teams had already PLAYED each other already. What's so super about it?

/end old man rant

Ernesto said...

I saw this piece by Donovan and wondered why even bother writing it. Eleven years later you are telling us that interleague play is here to stay? Really, did it take you that long to figure it out? This was a waste of cyberspace.

Ironic Goat said...

My favorite part-

"The Rays-Cardinals series in St. Louis last weekend was scintillating, with the Cardinals taking two of the three games with a 10th-inning walkoff homer Saturday and a walkoff single over a drawn-in outfield in the ninth inning Sunday."

Sure, ok, good baseball was played? I mean, what exactly is his point there?

That said, as a Nats fan, I really like playing the Orioles. Its fun to argue with all your local friends. Sure, thats only the case with 7 metro areas, but one of them is mine.

Ironic Goat said...

Also, if not for interleague, I would not have a deep and abiding hatred for Mike Scioscia and the Angels based on one series three years ago.

Daniel said...

Ironic- I think I remember that series. IIRC, it was a pretty good one, with the Nats either winning the series or sweeping outright. And I remember Jose Guillen strutting around the bases to show up Scioscia after hitting a homerun to put the Nats ahead.

I think the Angels and Nats square off this year in IL play. Looking forward to it! I mean how often do I get to watch, ummm, Jason Bergmann, and, uhhhh, Lastings Milledge? Not often enough, I say!

Ironic Goat said...

Angels brought our magic 10 game streak to a close, 11-0.(I think.) Robinson asked the umpires to check a pitchers glove, there was some illicit substance on it, then 69 year old Robinson and Scioscia almost get in fight, everyone boos Guillen when he gets to the plate later, and of course he hits a home run.

Pete Toms said...

I don't like interleague because of the competitive imbalance, I do think it is significant. I don't don't know how many wins it typically impacts on, but even a couple is significant in a tight playoff racee...oh for the days of 18 & 12....

I didn't read Donovan's piece but IIRC didn't the recent FORBES report on MLB claim that attendance for interleague is 15% higher than non interleague? I assume that most of this is driven by some great natural regional / city rivalries.

roadrider said...

I'm not a big supporter of inter-league play. The lions share of the juice comes from the natural rivalries in NY (full disclosure - I'm a Yankees fan), Chicago, LA, Bay Area, DC and I guess Texas. The price of supporting these glamor series are bizarre matchups like Royals-Marlins, Twins-Rockies, Tigers-Dbacks etc.

Does this make sense? I personally don't think so given the added schedule distortions that I believe have an impact on the divisional races.

I laughed at Donovan using the example of an exciting ending of one of the Rays-Cards games as lending support to the concept of inter-league play. How is one related to the other unless he's arguing that league play rarely produces late-inning drama? A typical sports-writing logical fallacy and one more reason that I no longer subscribe to SI.

Crawdaddy said...

Speaking of the O's-Nats series . . . I wish we played them 18 times a year.