Interleague baseball was first proposed in the 1930s. It took some 60 years for the first game to be played.
What took so long? The answer lies in the traditionalist heart. The first Interleague game was in 1997, and was the brainchild of the owners to boost attendance and revenue. And although it gives us fans an opportunity to see players we wouldn’t normally get to see, I’m going to go on record as saying I don’t love Interleague games.
Maybe I’m not a fan because I’m bitter that the American League dominates. Last year, the AL enjoyed a combined 149-103 edge. Boo!
Or maybe I feel it takes away from the uniqueness of the All-Star Game or, more importantly, the drama of the World Series.
Or maybe it is just a combination of all of it.
I was reading Mark Newman’s article on MLB.com today and learned that Interleague attendance just keeps growing. Mark states, “Total Interleague attendance has risen every year from 2002-08, going from 7,741,496 over 249 dates in 2002 to a little shy of one full ballpark under 9 million in 2008.”
Also in this article, Bud Selig is quoted as saying, “As long as I’m here, we will have Interleague Play. I love it.” (Hmmm. My other least favorite thing in baseball — home field advantage in the World Series based on the All-Star Game winner — was introduced by Selig, too. Hmmm. But I digress.)
Baseball attendance is down four percent this year, in my opinion, due to the economy. Baseball officials disagree, claiming that attendance is down due to the fact that the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field each have 15,000 fewer seats. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to see if the attendance for the scheduled Interleague games this season continues, on trend, to grow, or if Interleague attendance also declines.
If regular season Interleague baseball is here to stay, there is something that has been proposed numerous times before by players, sports journalists and fans that I really think would make Interleague games more interesting. Play by the visiting team’s league rules. For instance, if you are playing in a National League park against an American League team, use the designated hitter rule so that fans who don’t normally get to see the other league’s style of ball in their stadium get to see it first-hand.
Just an idea. What are your thoughts on Interleague Play?