MLB: Interleague Play Debate Continues MLB: Interleague Play Debate Continues MLB: Interleague Play Debate Continues

MLB: Interleague Play Debate Continues

There has been a continuing debate between media, fans, players etc. whether MLB should change the rules that apply during Interleague Play about the Designated Hitter and strength of schedule.

Just in case let’s look at the factors:

What is interleague play?

Interleague play is a Major League Baseball term that indicates when regular season games are played between teams that live in different leagues, so American League Teams play National League Teams.

  • Started in 1997 but was limited to divisions playing their counterparts in the opposite league only. (i.e. AL West vs. NL West; flip-flopping home field site)
  • Five seasons later, in 2002 the rules expanded which allowed for the divisions to rotate playing each other. This meant that one year the NL West would play the AL Central teams, the next year the AL East and then the AL West.
  • All interleague games are played in June, but the scattered series between cities with more than one team. (i.e. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles etc.).
  • The rules used during Interleague regular season games are the same as the World Series and the All-Star game that is, the home team’s league rules apply. So, when an AL team visits an NL Stadium, there is no designated hitter and the pitcher bats, as National League rules dictate.
  • The scheduling for Interleague Series is very unbalanced due to the unbalanced in the two leagues, with 14 in the AL and 16 in the NL; and the inter-city rivalries each are featured to play six games (or two series) against each other.

What is the Interleague Play debates or biggest complaints?

There are two issues that are complained about year after year, but both are relevant and have legit reasoning on either end:

1) The scheduling is very unfair, as it is lopsided. ESPN reporter Jayson Stark sums up the scheduling issues, which are quite complicated in an article written called Interleague play’s greatest problem. It has to do with the AL West having just four teams and the NL Central having six ball-clubs; as well as making sure city’s with two teams, in opposite leagues play each other six times for fans, which makes sense.

2) The rule that AL teams cannot a DH in NL stadiums, which in turn means the pitcher has to bat. It makes injuries are a major concern because AL pitchers do not take BP (batting practice) and are not used to running the bases, something NL pitchers are accustomed too. The All-Star Game and the World Series play by the rules of the hosting team, so why should Interleague Play be any different?

What is your opinion on Interleague Play?

Do you think it should stay as is, or that changes need to be made?

Should the DH be implemented in National League Parks during Interleague games? Basically, should AL rules be used across the board?

Should MLB Commissioner move one of the NL Central teams into the AL West? Or what is the alternative to keeping it unbalanced?

Opinions From Around The League:

Mark Gonzales of Chicago Tribune reported that White Sox slugger Adam Dunn had this to say about Interleague Play:

“It does suck, yes. But that’s another reason why I’m anti-interleague. It’s not fun … The interleague thing is just awful. It just ruins everything. Especially if you look at Boston. People like Ortiz. He’s having a great year, but now he’s going to have to sit a couple of games and screw up the mojo.”

Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland made his opinion clear to Tom Gage of the Detroit Free Press:

“It has run its course. I just don’t like it. First of all, at some point we have to get baseball back to the same set of rules. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about it. No other sport plays different rules (regarding the DH). I don’t care what they do. Whatever way they go is fine with me, but the rules should be the same.”


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