With the Los Angeles Dodgers welcoming the Detroit Tigers to Dodger Stadium for a two-game set, we here at Dodgers Nation decided to give our thoughts on interleague play.
Interleague play started in 1997 and was the first time that American League and National League teams began playing each other in regular season games. After the Houston Astros move to the American League last season, there is now an interleague game every night in the majors.
Our writers gave their take on the cross-league matchups:
Jared Massey (@jaredjmassey):
What do you do when a work stoppage causes the World Series to be canceled for the first time in 90 years? You give the people a gimmick. Something they haven’t seen before. Something new and exciting. Something like interleague play.
In 1997, just a few years after the strike that turned many people, including my grandfather, away from baseball, commissioner Bud Selig decided to introduce the viewing public to a concept that completely broke with baseball tradition: having teams from each league playing each other during the regular season.
At first, the reaction was largely positive. Fans came and watched. New rivalries formed. Revenues grew. However, 17 years later, the shine has dimmed. The novelty has worn off. Interleague play has become boring and pointless.
It’s time to go back to the way things were. Call me a traditionalist, call me old-fashioned. I’d like to go back to the way things were, when the only time teams from opposing leagues faced off was in the fall classic. That way, when an AL team plays an NL team, it actually means something.
Matt Moreno (@mmoreno1015):
I’m a fan of interleague play. I think it presents for entertaining games and kind of gives the two leagues an opportunity to flex their muscles and play for bragging rights.
Of course you may get some series that aren’t particularly noteworthy, but where it can really get interesting is when two teams who are believed to be favorites to reach the World Series play each other. We saw it last season when the Dodgers hosted the Red Sox for three games. The series didn’t go the Dodgers’ way, but it was a good litmus test to see where they stand against one of MLB’s best teams.
It’s also nice for the fans, both young and old. Interleague play may revive a historic rivalry, like Yankees vs. Dodgers, and it can give fans the chance to see a player/team they may not otherwise be able to.
At the end of the day, allowing teams from the two leagues to cross over and play each other makes for great theater and the positives outweigh the negatives.
Vincent Samperio (@vincesince91):
I am a fan of interleague play. It makes for fun matchups and a chance for bragging rights you don’t normally get. Considering I hate the New York Yankees and Anaheim Angels (Never calling them Los Angeles), it’s fun to see them come to Dodger Stadium for games that matter and being able to smack talk with someone besides San Francisco Giants fans.
While I can see the points of view of traditional baseball people, it’s cool to be able to see a player you wouldn’t have normally been able to see. Dodger fans will get to see Miguel Cabrera this series, who is possibly one of the greatest right-handed hitters of our time. Baseball was the only league where there was separation between leagues or conferences. Now with interleague play, all teams have a chance to play against every other team.
Interleague is here to stay and I have no problem with that; just don’t try to make the DH rule universal.
Jeff Spiegel (@dnfantasyspiegs):
I still remember the day in 2004 when I opened up the Dodgers’ schedule and realized that just months later, the New York Yankees were coming to Los Angeles for a three-game series. Sure, it was just a regular season series with minimal consequences, but there was something amazing about the buzz around town with a team like the Yankees coming in.
For me, that’s the beauty of interleague play — the opportunity to foster old rivalries, start new ones and see players we rarely get a chance to see. When I heard we were playing Detroit this week, my first thought was, “do we get to see Verlander?” (It probably should have been, “do we get to miss Verlander?”).
When I was younger, my mom would let me pick out one game per season that she would take me to, and I would scour the schedule looking for which team I wanted to see. Now, this was before interleague play, but I still remember the fascination I had with seeing certain players. One year, it was Mark McGwire, another it was Greg Maddux — the date, giveaway or night of the week didn’t matter, I just wanted to see a star.
With interleague play, we all get to experience that today in a new way. American league teams will be lining up to see Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper, while National League teams are probably already marketing a matchup with Mike Trout or Derek Jeter.
It’s great for the game and great for the fans, and for me, that’s why I love interleague play.
Nadia Tseng (@nadia_tseng):
My opinions on interleague play have been molded around one of my favorite childhood pitchers falling victim to base running disasters. This terrible event played out when the New York Yankees were playing in Pittsburgh, and highly touted Yankee pitcher Chien-Ming Wang tore a tendon while rounding third base to head home. Ever since this devastating injury, Wang was never able to return as the same caliber of starter he once was and has been floating around multiple farm systems.
While I support the idea of having every team in the MLB compete with each other, I and most American League teams cringe at the idea of having their starting pitchers, who are not trained offensively, be forced to participate at the plate at National League stadiums. Whereas the debate between utilizing a designated hitter versus making your pitchers bat is another can of worms, pitchers are a team’s highest valued defensemen, and they amplify their risk at injury every time they step into the batter’s box. NL pitchers are indeed more adapted to hitting; AL pitchers do not have the same luxury, unless maybe they have played with a NL team before.
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