I Despise Interleague Play

For many years, my seasons half been on a different timeline than most of the rest of the world. While others break the year up with firm divisions based on planting seasons, school schedules or celestial positioning, my schedule coincides with America’s pastime. The first day of Spring is the day pitchers and catchers report. Summer begins on opening day and lasts until the end of the last regular season game, at which point we inter fall. After the last out of the last game of the World Series, it is officially winter.

Clearly, I take baseball quite seriously, which is why I hate interleague play.

By the time interleague play entered the lexicon of American baseball fans, I was into my teen years and had been playing Little League longer than the average Major League career. I wasn’t sure about the concept in the beginning, but I’ve come to despise the weeks of summer when my home team plays the other league.

I grew up in the Deep South, a place where there is only one baseball team: the Atlanta Braves. Consequently, I have no desire to which “regional rivalries” like Kansas City vs. St. Louis, the Angels and the Dodgers or the Subway Series in New York. I don’t particularly care about the only two other teams below the Mason-Dixon, which didn’t exist until after I had been a Braves fan for over a decade. Neither do I have any desire to watch other National League teams wasting their time against the American League. I have no interest in that league till the tail end of fail. Right now, I’m more concerned with my team’s route to the Fall Classic.

But the the biggest reason I despise interleague play is that fact, yes fact, that American League Baseball is not real baseball. That’s bound to start some fights here.

I’m what many refer to as a baseball purist, but one doesn’t have to be a purist to understand that the American League doesn’t play by the rules. All you must do is refer to Rule 1.01, the very first rule of baseball:

Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires.

An American League line-up, with the exception of games in which those teams are lucky enough to set foot on National League grass, consists of 10 players.

The designated hitter rule is an abomination. It’s poker with a fifth ace. It’s subbing a linebacker for the punter after the punt. It’s replacing Jake Gyllenhaal’s acting skills with Marlon Brando’s, but keeping the pretty face.

As long as interleague play exists, I will grudgingly watch my home team each game. I’ll watch as a bench warmer goes in at first or in left so the every day guy can DH. I’ll watch it, but I won’t be happy about it.
What am I talking about? No matter how much I hate the DH or despise interleague play, I’ll be ecstatic just to watch the greatest game on the planet– even if it’s the silly fake American League version.

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  1. Matt Browner Hamlin
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I’m an AL fan, so obviously I’m biased towards the DH. But I think you make the whole point of why the DH in the AL is, in fact, not the same as what it is in the NL during interleague play:

    “I’ll watch as a bench warmer goes in at first or in left so the every day guy can DH.”

    In the AL, the DH is an every day player. It’s a position with its own challenges of focus and poise that is not maintained by playing in the field. There are some genuine elite players – Edgar Martinez comes to mind – who made an art out of being a DH.

    Moreover, because it is and has been how the American League plays baseball for 37 years, it is how our teams are built. It isn’t about putting a scrub in the field; good teams are built with this as a legitimate role for a solid hitter.

    I’m not in love with interleague play. It was a fun novelty. But the presence of the DH isn’t what makes it bad – otherwise, you’d also hate the World Series. It’s that it’s forced and contrived in most parts of the country. I also don’t like having it reduce the number of series’ against team in the same league. I’d be fine with calling a halt to interleague play, but leave the DH out of it.

  2. Richard Allen Smith
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I understand how the DH works in the AL, was merely making a point that it bothers me watching the NL teams attempt to adapt to it. It’s still an abomination and violates the first rule of the game.

  3. Peter
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I also hate interleague play but not because of the DH, about which I’m agnostic. To me, interleague play takes away from what made the World Series special: the only time when teams from the two leagues met to determine the best in baseball. Last year, the Yankees and Phillies played three games before meeting for the WS.

  4. Russ Wellen
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I never quite got why a pitcher who can’t hit is preferable to a hitter (the DH) who isn’t fielding. Seems like the same difference to me.

  5. Matt Browner Hamlin
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I also never got that either Russ. How is watching less skillful play be better than watching more skillful play?

  6. Richard Allen Smith
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Key point being missed here: THE DH IS AGAINST THE FIRST RULE OF BASEBALL! [/teabagger caps]

  7. Matt Browner Hamlin
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I know that you are saying that. But it is no longer operative, as the rule was changed in 1973.

    Once they changed the rules, the DH became part of baseball.

  8. Adam Lambert
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    without getting into the whole “rule” thing….I’m a Yankee fan but a fan of NL baseball more than AL baseball. The DH is a big part of that, and also partially why I wouldn’t vote for a guy like Edgar Martinez for the HoF. I think there is so much more strategy in the NL – bunting, double switching, squeeze, to let the pitcher hit or not, etc.

    I’m also not a fan of interleague play, but it isn’t for the same reason. While I am a purist at heart (I went kicking and screaming to the new Yankee Stadium, I didn’t like the Wild Card, etc.) it is the interleague play that bothers me the most – more of a gimmick that has been played out already. If you want to have one or 2 series, fine, but to make it 3 or 4 weeks out of the season – especially with the rotating divisions, I don’t like that. It puts some teams at more of a competitive advantage based on their schedule – over and above their normal divisional schedules.

  9. fikshun
    Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    The rule I hate most is the lack of a salary cap. In my eyes, baseball is the 5th major league sport and deserves no legitimacy until it is rectified. Until then, it’s the Yankees, Red Sox, and the Dodgers vs. their farm teams.

    Oh, and the ‘roids thing is also ridiculous. Until those are sorted, the sport shall continue to be known as speed golf.

  10. Valatan
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Of course, a Yankees fan should be more against the DH than anyone else–if there were a DH rule in 1918, the face of your franchise never would have swung a bat whilst wearing pinstripes.

  11. Valatan
    Posted June 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Permalink


    The salary cap has nearly ruined the NFL and the NBA. Why would MLB want to do that to themselves? There are other ways to enforce competitive balance than creating stupid contract situations and players in constant flux from one team to another.

    And there are small to mid-market teams that have stayed competitive–the recent crop of Rays, the Twins, the A’s. The Cardinals and the Braves have been better (or at least even in the Braves’ case) than the Dodgers over the past decade. The Giants and Mets have had huge payrolls and been horrible, too. The Cubs had a losing record for the ’00s, and were one of the largest payroll teams, too.

    Also, the ‘roids thing is every bit as prevalent in the NFL. It’s just that no one cares because career and single season statistical records aren’t treasured by football fans. It just makes the players hit harder and get injured more.

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