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I’m going to start a band. The name – Bud Selig and the Pinch Hitters. Alright, I’m not starting a band. Those days have come and gone. But, this name came to me yesterday as I was driving home and fuming over the 2013 Tigers schedule. When I got home, I took a look at some of the other 2013 schedules and suffice it to say, it’s a bunch of crap.
MLB.com’s Mark Newman breaks down the interleague aspect of the master schedule:
“Each club will play 20 Interleague games throughout the season. Those games will be played in eight series: four at home and four on the road. Interleague series featuring prime rivals will include back-to-back two-game series spanning both cities/venues. The week featuring Interleague Play’s prime rivals will begin on Monday, May 27, with the host clubs in the same matchups shifting on Wednesday, May 29.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but it’s also unfortunate. Here’s why.
There are two divisions playing by two different sets of rules, or to make it more simple, one huge differentiation in a long-standing rule that each man who takes the field should bat. Bud Selig has chosen to ignore this once again. With the Houston Astros moving to the American League West, each league will have 15 teams, meaning there will be an interleague game on any given day of the season. This means National League teams must find someone to pinch hit, or American League teams must bench their designated hitter.
This wouldn’t be a problem if everyone was paid the same salary. Problem is, they aren’t. E.g. Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, Billy Butler, Michael Young, Delmon Young, etc. These guys are paid to hit, nada mas.
The problem it creates for the National League is equally bad. During games when NL teams are on AL turf, NL managers must pick a utility player to DH. These teams don’t have a well-paid big-bopper on the bench to fill that DH spot, putting them at a disadvantage.
General Managers in either league must look at their ledgers, and make moves according to which division they belong in. With each club playing 20 interleague games during the 2013 season, there will be plenty of squandered payroll and benched talent.
Before we move on, forget the fact that several West-coast teams will have increased travel due to more two-game series and series against new opponents. The Dodgers will play a series against each team in the AL East. That alone is enough for Magic & Co. to be angry about.
Wait a minute – twenty games doesn’t sound so bad, right? Only twelve percent of a club’s regular season games will be interleague, and only half of them on the other league’s turf. This is true, but here is the real problem.
Games with implications. Teams with playoff hopes on the line will be entering the last portion of the season with interleague games yet to play, and will be forced to play a different kind of baseball than they’re used to. Here’s a look at some late-season interleague series:
Giants at Yankees September 20-22
Red Sox at Rockies September 24-25
Tigers at Marlins September 27-29
This means these that any of these teams, potentially in the thick of a penant race will be playing by a different set of rules. In the very last series of the season, the Tigers will be sending Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister not only to the mound, but to the batters box. Why? Bud Selig. Interleague play is his baby. It is one hell of an ugly baby.
The 2013 schedule seems to ignore the calls by many to remove interleague play and makes it an increasingly interwoven part of baseball, shedding even more light on an issue that’s been debated in baseball since the American League adopted the DH rule in 1973.
Bud Selig’s introduction of interleague play in 1997, and now his perversion of it in 2013 are signs that the Commissioner is clearly intent on forcing teams to play both ways. This is the behavior of a Czar rather than a commissioner. Each league has it’s own rules and each league plays by them. A less tyrannical commissioner would respect these rules and let the leagues play by their given sets of rules.
This season’s master schedule makes more money than it does sense: Ozzie back in the South Side, Pujols in St. Louis, potential Verlander vs. Strasburg, Dodgers first return to Brooklyn etc. The 2013 MLB master schedule has all cherries-on-top and no meat and potatoes.
I don’t salute you, Bud, and I never have. Let the leagues play their own styles of ball. We’ll have the DH argument another time (Trust me, we will.)
Commissioner Bud Selig, forever a Jerk in my heart.