Daily Archives: November 28, 2011

Is Expansion of Interleague Play a Good Idea?

      

Monday November 28, 2011

Sam Evans: When Major League baseball first instituted interleague play in 1997 it was supposed to draw fans back to the game. It worked, as attendances rose around baseball whenever teams from the other league were in town. Now, in the year 2011, MLB is searching for a new way to draw fans back to the game and level the playing field for teams at the same time.

This offseason, Major League Baseball decided to realign the Astros to the American League. With balance leagues of 15 teams each side, this means that there will be at least one interleague game on days when all thirty teams are playing (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Opening Day, etc). MLB is trying to make the leagues and divisions more fair, but by doing so they are making interleague play less meaningful. In “Elmo Saves Christmas,” Elmo wishes that he could have Christmas every day.  However, when Elmo’s wish comes true, he discovers Christmas is not as fun anymore. I am frightened that this will happen to baseball, and the result is that interleague play will not be as special.

For myself and many other baseball fans, the current interleague schedule is perfect. The summer months are a great time to go watch a team that you otherwise would not normally get to watch. I am afraid that with MLB’s new proposed schedule, the concept of separate leagues will lose almost all of their meaning outside of the postseason. The All-Star game will also not be as exciting because we would have already seen most of these players face each other throughout the year.

If I was Bud Selig, I would recognize that baseball needs to regain popularity among younger people. Baseball needs new ideas in marketing to become more popular around the world. If this new increased interleague schedule is destined to happen,  then I would have only one interleague game on those required days and make it nationally televised. This would be similar to NBC’s Game of the Week which was televised and extremely popular from 1960 to 1990.

I think that interleague play over a whole season will have the opportunity to bring more fans to the game. However, I think there is more of a chance that it has little to no impact.  Major League baseball needs to focus on getting people talking, to create a buzz. We have seen this idea work when fans are drawn to exciting players such as Strasburg and when fans see other people talking about the game.

If Major League Baseball ends up increasing the interleague games, they definitely shouldn’t have more than two interleague games per day, and they should advertise these games as much as possible. I didn’t find many problems with the current alignment, and I think it would have worked best if they had just stuck with the present schedule.  Advances in the game can be great and revolutionize the sport.  Increasing interleague play is not the answer in that regard.  Expect more schedule and realignments changes to come until Major League Baseball gets it right.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

 

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