Houston Let’s Fix this Problem

Thanks to the Astros, interleague play will never look the same again.

Hallelujah.

Let’s face it, interleague play’s biggest flaw is that it always looks the same.  After 16 years of trying, Major League Baseball has failed to deliver what it promised.  Maybe the Astros can fix that.

By moving to the American League West division next season, Houston will provide a balance between the leagues and provide Bud Selig the chance to give baseball fans what they’ve wanted.

Baseball fans love their teams, without a doubt.  They religiously follow the daily ups and downs and to invest themselves in their local heroes.

Baseball fans also take great interest in other teams and visiting stars.  Maybe they like to root against them, maybe they’re interested in seeing the worlds best performers.

How else do you explain the attendance bump when the Yankees go to Anaheim?  Or when Barry Bonds filled random ballparks on Tuesday nights?  What’s the explanation for the way fans show for interleague play?

Give Bud Selig credit, that much he gets.

Baseball fans love baseball.  Cardinal faithful in St. Louis are fascinated to see a player like Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki.  The folks in Denver come out to see stars like Derek Jeter.

But interleague play has failed to accomplish its mission:  bring every team to every city.

Did you know that in 16 years of interleague play, the Padres have never been to Toronto?  That’s ridiculous.  The Rangers haven’t gone to St. Louis (during the regular season, anyway).  The Dodgers never visited old Yankee Stadium.  Worse, they haven’t even been to new Yankee Stadium.

Are you telling me that Yankees fans wouldn’t have been interested in seeing Joe Torre return as the skipper of a proud NL franchise?

Then again, fans were entertained by the Tigers and Pirates six times this season.  Or punished.

The Braves have never been to Kansas City.  I could see some story lines there, too:  Braves’ president John Schuerholz returns to the place he made his name as Royals GM. He runs into ex-Braves there – including Royals GM Dayton Moore, manager Ned Yost, and Jeff Francouer.

But then, what could be more compelling than the Red Sox and Marlins for six games?  A lot.

In 16 years, we couldn’t figure out how to get the Twins to Atlanta?  Come on.

So take some pride, Astros fans, because your team is giving Selig a chance to fix the problem.  Somebody had to do it.

With the Astros  squaring Major League Baseball’s two leagues at 15 teams apiece next year we’ll see interleague matchups all season.  I’m not here to debate the merit of interleague play in general — that’s something we can delve into some other day.  For the moment, let’s even forget the various flaws presented by year-round interleague (like an interleague series on the final weekend deciding post-season spots. Ugh.).

Instead, let’s think about what that could mean for the schedule.

Done correctly, one AL division would align with one NL division and they’d rotate every year.  Teams would be assured of playing every team from the other league once every three years.  Competitive fairness would be restored.  The so-called “natural rivalries” can take a back seat for now, as far as I’m concerned.  When those rivalries come together in future years, the intensity will only heighten.  It could be great.

Attendance for interleague games was 15.8% higher than other MLB games this year.  And overall attendance is up 8.1% in 2012.  Selig is on the right track.

But stop telling us that the Tigers and Pirates are natural rivals.  We’re not that dumb.  Give fans what was promised 16 years ago – a chance to celebrate the great talent on every team in the big leagues.

I guarantee fans will come out to watch.  Right?

5 thoughts on “Houston Let’s Fix this Problem

  1. I wonder who they would determine the Astros’ natural rival to be once they switch to the American League. Phillies (because of Ed Wade’s numerous trades with his former club)? Cardinals (because the Houston Buffs had been a farm club of the Cardinals)? Of course, the Rangers will now have the same problem.

  2. Sorry, Dave. I never give Selig credit for anything. The guy is a joke and needs to get out of baseball. He’s ruining the game.

  3. The only thing Selig gets credit for is thinking that he’s bigger than the game. Oh, and for turning his back on the steroid problem until it suited him to come in and act as though he fixed the problem. Bud Selig – the commissioner who creates a need – and then fills it.

    For the record, my thoughts have nothing to do with the switch to the AL. I’m fine with it. It’ll be good to get out of this bloated 6-team division. My problem with Selig is his colossal ego.

  4. I really wish the Brewers had moved back to the AL. I still think of them as an AL club and certainly they don’t have 50 years in the NL as the Astros do. I think we all know why that won’t happen. My second suggestion would be to move the Diamondbacks into the AL. They are a much younger franchise than Houston and would fit nicely in the AL West to give them 5 clubs. Then, move the Astros back into the NL West to help restore some great old rivalries with the Dodger and Giants. That would be my solution if MLB is so set on having 15 teams in each league. Another thing that irks me about this move is that Texas will now have two teams in the same league and same division. Are the Yankees and Mets in the same league? The Cubs and White Sox? The Rays and Marlins? The Orioles and Nationals? The Indians and Reds? The Cardinals and Royals? The Giants and A’s? The Dodgers and Angels? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, and no. Only the Pirates and Phillies are in the same league and they are not in the same division. I don’t count the CA teams like the Giants, Dodgers and Padres for being in the same division because there are so many of them. This is a tragedy for Texas baseball fans and it means we will never have an All-Texas World Series. That is a shame.

  5. The only thing Selig gets credit for is thinking that he’s bigger than the game itself. He turned his back on the steroid problem as an owner because it was good for profits. As a commissioner he’s suddenly all over fixing this terrible problem that’s ruining the integrity of the game. Bud Selig – the commissioner who creates a need, and then fills it.

    For the record; My dislike of Selig isn’t the switch to the AL. I’m fine with that. It will be good to get out of this bloated six-team division. My dislike of Selig is all because of his colossal ego. The couple of times he’s clearly favored other teams over Houston in game-changing decisions hasn’t helped either (roof open in 2005 WS, “home” game only ninety miles from Chicago).

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