Interleague play: Enjoyable for players and fans alike

Today kicks off the start of Major League Baseball’s interleague play as the Colorado Rockies visit the red-hot Detroit Tigers who are riding a six game win streak. Having swept the Oakland Athletics and then the Texas Rangers, Jim Leyland and company are looking forward to the pace up against the Rockies.

This time of year generally marks when the Tigers play their best, as in the last three years they are 42-12 against teams from the National League. This includes a 13-5 record last year, a 14-4 record in 2007, and 15-3 record in their AL Pennant-winning year of 2006.

Now, what makes interleague play so compelling to players is the fact that they get to play in stadiums they most likely wouldn’t get to play in until the World Series. And, if that team is playing poorly, without interleague play they would never have the opportunity to play in those ballparks. Also, the players get to face opponents they wouldn’t normally get to face. In these situations, the hitters are at the disadvantage because they (most likely) have never faced the pitcher before and don’t know their tendencies and the pitches they have in their repertoire.

For the fans, they get the chance to see players they wouldn’t normally see. Last year, the Tigers traveled to Arizona, San Francisco and San Diego so their fans got to see the Tigers players they have only seen on TV. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Detroit fans got to see players on the Dodgers Dodgers, Cardinals and Rockies as all three clubs came into town .

Another enjoyable aspect about interleague play is getting to watch the American League pitchers try to bat in National League parks. Sometimes they connect, but more times than not it is fun to watch them fail, and look miserable doing so. The downfall for American League fans is not getting to see typically good pitchers who are good at swinging the wood. Chicago Cubs hurler Carlos Zambrano is one of the better-hitting pitchers in the National League, and when the Cubs travel to Comerica Park the end of June the Tigers faithful won’t get to see him swing the stick.

Interleague play also allows for teams to participate in geographical “rivalries” which generally include interleague battles within the state. The most prominent is the “Subway Series” between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, but there are many others also:

  • The “Windy City Series” – Chicago Cubs v. Chicago White Sox
  • “Battle of Ohio” – Cincinnati Reds v. Cleveland Indians (in progress this weekend)
  • “Freeway Series” – Los Angeles Dodgers v. Los Angeles Angels (in progress this weekend)
  • “Bay Bridge Series” – San Francisco Giants v. Oakland Athletics
  • “I-70 Series” or “Show-Me” Series – St. Louis Cardinals v. Kansas City Royals (in progress this weekend)
  • Minnesota Twins v. Milwaukee Brewers (They were rivals in the American League when Brewers moved from Seattle after 1969). (in progress this weekend)
  • “Lone Star Series” – Houston Astros v. Texas Rangers (in progress this weekend)
  • “Citrus Series” – Florida Marlins v. Tampa Bay Rays (in progress this weekend)
  • “Beltway Series” – Baltimore Orioles v. Washington Nationals (in progress this weekend)

There’s nothing more fun than getting a look at different stadiums and different players as the MLB kicks off it’s 14th year of interleague play this weekend. Fans, be sure to enjoy this time of year because it sure doesn’t last long

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