Archived Story

Interleague play is here to stay

Published 12:01am Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interleague play began last weekend in Major League Baseball, and more interleague games will be coming in June.

That’s usually my cue to complain about how bad interleague play is for the game, but there’s really no sense in that.

Starting in 2013, with the move of the Houston Astros to the American League West, each league will have 15 teams. This means that each day all of the MLB teams are active, at least one interleague game will have to be played.

In other words, yearlong interleague play is a reality. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.

There are plenty of other areas that Major League Baseball could stand to improve without me even suggesting the league go back to how things were before 1997, when interleague play was implemented.

Here are just a couple of ideas that should be tossed around:

4 Implement some kind of system that ensures balanced scheduling when it comes to interleague play. There’s no sense in the Braves facing the Rays, Rangers and Yankees while the Phillies only have to face the Royals, Blue Jays and Mariners.

4 The notion that the All-Star game — an exhibition — should count for anything is ridiculous. No way should it determine which team has homefield advantage in the World Series. If a divisional champion that won 10 more games than a wild card team meets said wild card team in the World Series, the team with the most wins should have homefield.

4 Move the World Baseball Classic to November. The next one is coming up in March 2013, and it’s going to do what it usually does — disrupt players’ spring training routines. No one should be playing in any meaningful games in March, because there’s a risk that a player will overexert himself in a meaningful game and hurt himself.

4 Implement instant replay for everything, from home run calls to safe and out calls. Umpires have blown far too many calls for far too long, and the utter lack of accountability for the league’s officiating has instilled a sense of complacency where nothing ever gets better.

Come to think of it, why are umpires needed at all? Every ballpark is installed with a Pitch-F/X zone evaluation system. This system uses cameras to take pictures of a pitch being thrown as it travels from the mound to home plate. The accuracy between balls-and-strikes calls is near 100 percent — much better than umpires.

Doing away with umpires would not only ensure the correct calls are being made, but it would create a universal strike zone. This would benefit both hitters and pitchers, as they wouldn’t have to adjust to strikes zones that are dependent upon which umpiring crew is officiating which series.

I know, I know, the “human element” is part of the game. But why? If the technology existed back when baseball first started being played to make the most accurate calls, don’t you think they would have used it? Tradition for the sake of tradition only halts progress.

Then again, “progress” brought us interleague play, so maybe the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

 

Michael Kerekes is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3632 or michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.