Do you agree with Jim Leyland that interleague play has run its course?
Jim Leyland is a smart guy. He’s been in baseball since back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. So when Jim Leyland says “I think it’s had its purpose, and it’s probably, in some case, served its purpose. But it’s run its course,” me, I take notice.
And Leyland has a point. Interleague has gone beyond its original intent and occasionally constitutes more than 10% of a team’s schedule. This means that a team might end up playing 18 games against interleague opponents to the detriment of of the divisional schedule. Sure, this might be nice for the occasional fan who only comes out once or twice a year but it’s bad for the teams and for the division.
I don’t necessarily think that baseball should abolish interleague play but I do think they need to rethink how it is scheduled. Most importantly, it should be limited to a home and home series every year. It’s worth seeing the Mets and Yankees play. It’s fun putting the Cubs and White Sox up against each other. San Francisco and Oakland deserve the chance to earn bragging rights each year. But beyond that, enough is enough.
This presents a separate problem because the NL and AL don’t have the same number of teams. To that I propose two possible solutions. First, rotate two NL teams who won’t play interleague in a season. Or second, move an NL team to the AL. It’s been done before and wouldn’t be so bad.
Interleague play has helped revitalize baseball and there’s no denying that the parks are packed for rivalry series like the Cubs and White Sox. But in all the focus on Leyland’s interleague comments, a more important point may have been missed. Leyland also said, “at some point, we have to get baseball back to the same set of rules, and I don’t know why more people don’t talk about it. … I don’t care what they do. I just think that they should synchronize it. Whichever way they decide to go is fine with me.”
Here Leyland is specifically referring to the DH and the problems it creates during interleague play. And again, the man has a point. For an AL team playing two consecutive road series against an NL team, the regular DH is either going to sit for a week or be forced to platoon with one of the regular starters to get some at-bats. Either way, it’s not an ideal situation and baseball needs to address it. Granted, limiting interleague play to one home and one away series a year would help solve the problem but it would be nice to see some consistency between the two leagues.
I can’t say that I agree one hundred percent with Leyland but I do think there’s merit to what he says and it bears consideration. As entertaining as interleague may be, when it affects divisional matchups and a team’s ability to compete, some reconsideration may be in order. Has interleague play run its course? Not necessarily. Does it need to be reconsidered? Definitely.