Monday, June 30, 2008

Zen Dayley: Interleague play should be history

A.J. Burnett, living up to his rep as a .500 pitcher, does his best to blow it for the Jays, who beat the Braves 1-0 despite his 11 strikeouts in seven innings.

There's a huge element of "don't waste your bandwidth" to any anti-interleague play screed.

There are literally powerful forces -- the manufacturers of the approximately 373 erectile dysfunction drugs advertised weekly on the Fox Saturday Game of the Week -- who believe interleague is Good for Business. There's no convincing Bud Selig, et al., otherwise. That means you'll be subject to more wallowing in nostalgia about long-ago World Series matchups -- as if they have any revelance to the current season.*

The bottom line is it's tiresome to see a gimmick play hell with whatever integrity the playoff races might accidentally have in the age of $200-million payrolls and playing each divisional opponent 18 times each season. Ask the L.A. Angels about how they love having their players forced into roles they're uncomfortable with when they play at a National League park. The Angels pinch-hitters were 0-for-11 in those games. Please keep that in mind if L.A. ends up missing the playoffs by one game.

The stupidity of it all is in persisting with a tradition that's been laid to rest in almost every other precinct. As any Ottawa Lynx diehard remembers, pitchers only bat in the minor leagues when two NL-affiliated teams are playing each other. If a Jays farm team meets a Braves farm team, the DH is used. Why should it be any different in the majors?

(Digression: The rule should be the same in each league, but perhaps the DH should be de-emphasized. Being physically capable of holding down a defensive position should be a prereq for being an everyday player. The concept of the "floating DH" -- someone who can enter at any time, but can't come up again until another eight batters have had their turn, is really appealing. Another halfway crackers idea: Pitchers have to hit and the DH takes the spot of the worst position player in the lineup. John McDonald would be a Hall of Famer if he could play every day and not have to bat, which is the only way he could play every day.)

There's probably evidence that the National League is weaker for insisting that pitchers have to bat. The Minnesota Twins, who are below .500 against AL teams, are flirting with contention by virtue of going 14-4 in interleague. (The Twinkies are also 7-2 against the K.C. Royals, whose record looks better than it is since they also cleaned up in interleague. Don't ask why the Jays struggle with it seemingly every year. That said, the Twins being fifth in the league in runs scored is awesome.)

Having to watch 18 of the suckers, as a fan of a team with no geographical rival, is also tedious. The AL should go back to the old balanced schedule and have teams play six interleague games -- during the second week in April. Then we'll see how popular it is.

What else ...

  • It's reasonable to wonder if the Detroit Tigers are going to make a run in the second half (at 41-40, they're above .500 for the first time this season). The short answer is no, not with their pitching.
  • There's a report that the A's are betting a $4.25-million signing bonus on a Dominican dandy, 16-year-old right-handed pitcher Michael Inoa.

    A Jays fan can't even dream of the Rogers Communications cheapskates ever authorizing that kind of investment in young talent. How come no one with a bigger platform points out that the Jays don't win because, under Godcciardi, they've persisted with the most cynical corporate approach -- make sure the casual fans see you spending money, instead of spending it wisely where no one's looking..

    That's how you end up with a .500 team that starts David Eckstein as the DH and has only two of Baseball America's top 100 prospects (although it's getting better). It doesn't have to be that way -- just look at the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Tracking Phillippe Aumont's progress has taken the focus away from Michael Saunders, the other hotshot Canadian in the Seattle Mariners system. Sorry about the procrastination -- he's been doing well as a 21-year-old centrefielder just called up to Triple-A.
  • Revising Jackie Robinson's Hall of Fame plaque was a well-meant gesture, but Sports on My Mind says real progress would also mean revising Kenesaw Mountain Landis' plaque -- or removing it altogether.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to


eyebleaf said...

so how do you really feel about interleague play?

and you're right about johnny mac. if he could be a designated fielder, man, he'd go into the hall as a Jay. dude's a magician at short.

and "Godcciardi"...I must say, I like that.

sager said...

Pete Toms came up with Godcciardi. The beauty of it is that it can be taken to refer to J.P.'s ego, or it's amalgam of Godfrey and Ricciardi.

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