Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The End of Interleague Play as we know it
This past weekend was the commencement of the 2012 interleague schedule. Interleague Play is annually a big revenue boost for teams around the league, as fans flock to ballparks to see teams that do not get to come to town that often. In particular, the "natural rivalry" home-and-home series are a big draw. As a Brewer fan, I always look forward to the six games between the Brewers and Twins. Much like when the Brewers play the Cubs, the team records are out the window when these two match up, and they are always fun battles to watch. Unlike the Battle of Ohio, the Subway Series, or the Freeway Series, it doesn't really have a name, though so I am nominating the "Reciprocity Series" as my vote, since students from Minnesota and Wisconsin enjoy in-state tuition the other state's schools.
Whether you are a fan of interleague play or not, as of next year it is definitely here to stay. Due to the Houston Astros moving to the AL West next year, out of necessity there will have to be interleague play all year round instead of just in blocks in May and June. I personally don't like this idea, but I understand that the balancing of the 6 divisions is the greater good. I have two main problems with year-round interleague. First off, there will inevitably be situations in September when a team in a tight divisional race will be forced to play a meaningless interleague series. The other 3 major sports all play "interleague" year-round, but there are an even number of teams in each of those sport's leagues, so this is not a problem. The only way to remedy this for MLB would be to follow suit and contract 2 teams, or add 2. I can't really see contraction happening due to the revenue sharing program - maybe a team moving, but not contraction. And unless MLB wants to expand more outside the US or change territorial rules, expansion does not seem likely either. So we could be stuck with this for awhile. Secondly, MLB is threatening to do away with the "rivalry" series starting next year. I can understand that people would have mixed feelings about this - if you live in large markets like Chicago, NY, or LA, this would be a tragedy, but for example a citizen of Atlanta or San Diego does not really have a natural rival, so there is no big loss there. I personally think that it would be a huge mistake to do away with these series and I hope MLB finds a way to keep them happening. Imagine how much less interesting baseball would be if the Cubs & Cardinals, or Red Sox & Yankees, or Dodgers & Giants never played during the year...I think these rivalry series hold the same weight. Either way, I'm looking forward to the Brewers having one less team to compete with in the division next year.
A quick update on the Tour front. The week before our South Florida trip, our US Cellular Field 5th Anniversary visit has ballooned, as so many of our trips do, into a 3-ballpark weekend. The night before we are going to see an independent league team in the Chicago metro area that has always eluded us, the Windy City Thunderbolts. Also, on Friday night, we will be watching our first game in the inaugural season of the Lakeshore Chinooks in Mequon, Wisconsin. From what I have read, the fundraising efforts for the park did not go very well, so a lot of what was originally designed did not get built. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what is actually there besides metal bleachers. We know for sure there will be a tasty fish fry and a good ballgame so that's all that matters.
STANDINGS AND UPCOMING SERIES AS OF 05.22:
Brewers 17-25, -6.0 (3 v. Giants, 3 @ Diamondbacks)
Reds 22-19, -0.5 (4 v. Braves, 3 v. Rockies)
Twins 14-27, -9.0 (3 @ White Sox, 3 v. Tigers)
2012 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 2
Peter - 9