I’m conflicted.  

Thus far this year, I’ve denigrated the entire practice of interleague play in MLB exactly 87 times (what, you can prove me wrong?). My primary gripe with it is the incredibly unbalanced schedules it creates. Is it fair that the Mets and Braves must play the Yankees and Red Sox six times this year while the Phillies play Toronto and Kansas City? Of course not. You could ask anyone who even has a passing interest in baseball and they can tell you that.  

Now imagine this 22 years later.Another aspect that I take issue with is the sense that it lowers the profile of the World Series. Interleague play has made the world of MLB feel smaller, and that is no compliment in this instance. That final best-of-seven series is supposed to be the moment when two superpowers collide. Now it may well be a rematch of three games that were already played in June. Imagine Rocky VII being centered around Balboa/Drago Pt. II. We’ve seen it already, The Cold War is over and Apollo Creed has long been avenged. So what’s the point? 

Then why did I care so much that the Mets were obliterated by the Yankees these past two games? Sure, I always feel some resentment whenever the Mets lose, no matter who they play. But I wasn’t prepared to feel as irritated as I did last night as I listened to the game in a car on my way home. Before I knew it, the Mets were behind 5-0 and if you followed that game, you probably got the sense that it didn’t even feel that close. It was a dominant 5-0 with a microscopic hope of return. And I was despondent.  

Perhaps I wasn’t being entirely honest with myself. Maybe I cared much more about this interleague thing than I’d like to admit. It’s even possible – and I can’t believe I’m writing this willingly – that I bought into the hype.  

He's so old...To all you younger (i.e. young enough that when you look at Johnny Pesky’s wrinkly skin you feel slightly disgusted) Red Sox fans out there: remember what it was like pre-2004, when you couldn’t bear the thought of being harassed by Yankee fans because you had nothing to stand on? Now think of how much worse this experience would have been if 70% of the people around you were Yankee fans. At least you could hide from the antagonism in Boston. It wasn’t the case for me. I watched the Yankees climb back towards dynasty-status as my Mets crumbled to “Worst-Team-Money-Can-Buy” status. And I heard about it everyday from fair-weather Yankee fans who couldn’t even name their starting nine.  

Hit by a freight train.The 2000 World Series was a total kick in the grundle. Five games and it was over. The Mets were outscored that series by merely three runs. Three runs were the difference. And yet, the Mets went down 4 games to 1. When Mike Piazza flied out to deep center to finish it off, the jackasses in the dorm room next to me began blaring “New York, New York” from their stereo, apparently failing to recognize the irony of celebrating a New York victory over New York in such New York fashion. 

So I am admitting it. I still care about interleague play. Not just for its propensity to handicap certain teams, but also because the Mets-Yankees games still mean something to me. If you had asked me three days ago if I would ever miss anything about interleague play if it were to be banished from the face the earth, I would have said absolutely not and good riddance. And at the time, it would have been the most honest answer I could give you.

Now, I’m not so sure anymore. I still feel that the state of the game would ultimately be better if it were scrapped. I just can’t say in all sincerity that I would not miss it.


8 Responses to “Mea Culpa: I uhhhmm… I… care about uh… I care about interleague play. There.”

  1. El Esteroide says:

    It’s ironic that you care about interleague play because when it comes down to it, most Yankees fans aren’t that interested in beating the Mets. Some bandwagoners are, but for the most part we’re concerned with our actual rival: the Red Sox.

    Just another reason that it’s depressing to be a Mets fan: no rival in your own league.

  2. Paul Moro says:

    Let’s be fair, though. There’s no rivalry as strong (or existing in such a bubble) as the Yankees/Sox. Your comment about not having rivals in your own league is applicable to every other team if you’re comparing it w/ Yanks-Sox.

    On a smaller scale, the Mets definitely have good rivalries with the Braves AND the Phillies. It’s just not noticed by Yankees or Red Sox fans because you guys aren’t real baseball fans.

    Eat it.

  3. Yo El Steroid,

    Your comments reak of fairweather fandom. Let me guess – you started liking the Yankees about 13 games ago? Before that, I bet you were wearing your Heilman jersey on the 7 train out to Shea. Then when tides turned, you jumped ship – no worries I know your type.

    Anyone who says that the Mets don’t have a rival in the NL East is absolutely clueless. The Braves and Mets hate one another, and Phillies fans hate everyone, including the Mets, therefore creating a natural rivalry.

    Granted, the NL East rivalries are weak in comparison with the best rivalry in sports (Yankees-Sox), but they are strong rivalries overall. Go back to booing Arod – oh wait I forgot you all love him now.

  4. Nick Kapur says:

    Wow, I must say it pains me a bit to hear people I respect like Paul and Zvee, simply automatically and unquestioningly granting that the Yankees-Sox rivalry is the greatest in sports.

    I guess I probably need to write a post to rectify this or something, but in my view the Yanks-Sox rivalry is almost all hype. I agree that the rivalry is pretty strong now, but it is an extremely recent phenomenon, because only recently have both the Yankees and Sox both been good. For many, many decades, one team or the other was really bad (usually, that team was the Sox). I doubt Yankees fans cared much about the Sox at all during all those years when the Sox were terrible.

    OF course, I am biased, but I would have to say that historically, Giants-Dodgers is a far better rivalry. 17 times either the Giants or the Dodgers have directly eliminated the other team from postseason play. 17 times! How many times have the Sox or Yankees done that? 4? 5 maybe?

    I mean, heck, historically the Yankees and Dodgers have a stronger rivalry than the Yanks and Sox. The two teams have met each other in 11 World Series – more than any other two teams by a huge margin of about 6 World Series.

    And that’s just limiting ourselves to baseball. If we expand into other sports, we can find rivalries that have far, far more history and animosity than Sox-Yankees, which for nearly a century has been one of the most one-sided “rivalries” in the history of rivalry.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding Sox-Yankees, but I submit to you that this hype is at least 75% accounted for by the fact that ESPN and SI are both basically based in New York and another 20% by the fact that both teams have actually been good at the same time for the last 5 or 6 years.

  5. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, I don’t talk about the Yanks-Sox rivalry unquestioningly. Or rather, I try not to. But if you like baseball, you can’t just turn a blind eye towards it.

    Your point on the Giants-Dodgers-Yankees is valid. If we were having this conversation in the late 1940s-early 1950s, you’d be absolutely correct.

    But the Dodgers and Giants, I don’t think, have ever played each other in the postseason (in all fairness, aside from the weird 1981 season, this was impossible for them to do pre-1995) so their rivalry never quite reached the national stage. It was a regional thing.

    Granted, the Sox-Yanks rivalry is also rooted in geography, but it’s far easier to follow East Coast baseball than it is West Coast simply because of the time difference. There aren’t many people on the East who are able to finish watching a game taking place out West that starts after 10pm EST.

    And again, the 2003 postseason created this behemoth for better or worse and the 2004 playoffs made it that much stronger. And it happened with the national tv audience watching. You can’t say that about the Dodgers-Giants. The average fan would sooner point to a Giants-A’s rivalry because it’s easier to point to geographic proximity (which makes marketing it easier) and the 1988 World Series.

    Besides, I think we’re talking about two different things here – you’re approaching it from a historical perspective while all I was referring to is the present. I don’t think either of us are wrong, per se.

  6. Coley Ward says:

    Paul, I like interleague play. I don’t like the following things:

    1. The DH. I think it’s silly that one league has it and one league doesn’t. Why stop there? Why doesn’t one league play with a slightly larger ball? Or with four outs per inning? Rules should be uniform.

    2. There are two more teams in the American League than there are in the National League. Can’t we just contract the Rockies and Devil Rays, switch the Brewers back to the AL and be done with it?

    3. Chipper Jones. Let’s get rid of him, too.

  7. Nick Kapur says:

    I totally take your point, Paul, about us actually talking about different things and us both being right. But I still feel it’s important to recognize how much of Yanks-Sox rivalry is just hype self-generated by East-Coast media conglomerates, and how recent it is – pretty much just 2003-present and Bucky Dent.

    Actually, the Dodgers and Giants have played each other in the playoffs a few times, most famously in the three game playoff in 1951 which was ended in the bottom of the ninth of the third game with Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard round the world” walk-off home run.

    But great baseball rivalries are really not just about playing each other in the post season, which as you point out is actually pretty hard to do if you’re in the same division – it’s much more about being in tight pennant races year after year after year, and the Dodgers and the Giants have finished 1-2 or 2-1 in their league or division more than any other two teams in all of baseball history.

    I also take your point about East-Coaster’s being asleep when west-coast teams play, but that doesn’t make the rivalries any less intense (at least on the ground, if not at the SportsCenter desk). You should definitely try to make it to a Giants-Dodgers game some day if you get a chance, if you can even get a ticket to one, that is.

  8. El Esteroide says:

    Yo Zvee;

    Accusing me of being a fair weather fan doesn’t deflect anything from the fact that Mets fans care more about the Yankees than any of their division “rivals.” And it doesn’t change the fact that the Subway Series “rivalry” more or less goes one way–just look at some of Jose Reyes’ comments about it compared to those of Derek Jeter.

    As for the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, it’s true that it wasn’t the most heated in sports for too long a time, but it certainly is now. Since around when Pedro got dealt to the Sox it has kicked up to a historic level of intensity that no other rivalry in American sports can compare to.

    Finally I would never wear a Heilman jersey on the #7 train. I wouldn’t want to sit next to kid with purple hair or the 20 year old mom with 4 kids ;)

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