Interleague play

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Interleague play is the term used to describe regular season Major League Baseball games played with teams in different leagues, introduced in 1997. Before the 1997 season, teams in the American League and National League did not meet during the regular season. The AL/NL match-up only occurred during spring training, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

History

Interleague or interconference matchups have long been the norm in other professional sports leagues such as the NFL. But while regular-season interleague play was discussed for baseball's major leagues as early as the 1930s, the concept didn't take hold until the 1990s (at least in part as an effort to renew the public's interest in MLB following the controversial 1994 players' strike). Interleague play was not, and is still not, a universally endorsed innovation. However, it has added a new dimension to the major-league game, creating some match-ups that had not been seen before, and some which held special significance for geographical and historical reasons.

The first interleague match took place on June 12, 1997, as the Texas Rangers hosted the San Francisco Giants at The Ballpark in Arlington (now Ameriquest Field in Arlington).

From 1997 to 2001, teams from the American League West played teams from the National League West, etc., typically scheduled to alternate between home and away in consecutive years. However, in 2002, the league began alternating which divisions would play which divisions, and thus in 2002 the American League East played the National League West, the American League Central played the National League East, and the American League West played the National League Central. Match-ups which had been of particular interest prior to this format (e.g., New York Yankees vs. New York Mets) were preserved. This is expected to be the continuing format of interleague matchplay.

The designated hitter rule is applied in the same manner as in the World Series and the All-Star Game. In an American League ballpark, both teams use a Designated Hitter to hit for the pitcher. In a National League ballpark, both teams' pitchers must hit.

Overall, the National League holds a 988:959 advantage over the American League as of 2004.

For historical stats [1], see the external link below.

Interesting match-ups

There are several match-ups that are the result of interleague matchplay which are highly anticipated and well-attended for a number of reasons:


Pros

  • Interleague matchplay increases attendance.
  • Fans can see historic players (like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Greg Maddux, etc.) they might not otherwise get to see.
  • Interleague matchplay allows certain geographic rivalries to be played out during a season, such as New York Yankees v. New York Mets, that otherwise might not be.
  • It creates matchups that might not have been seen in generations. For example, during the 2004 season, the Giants and Red Sox played each other for the first time since meeting in the 1912 World Series.

Cons

  • There are many series that are not considered compelling.
  • American League pitchers generally don't like taking batting practice for the opportunity to bat in one or two matches. These pitchers are also unaccustomed to running the bases, which can lead to injury and premature fatigue.
  • Some of the mystique of the World Series dies when teams have a regular season record against one another.
  • With the two leagues not having the same number of teams, and with one division (the National League Central) containing six teams while another (the American League West) has only four (the other two divisions in both leagues consisting of five teams each), various irregularities in scheduling result, most notably the fact that teams in the same division no longer play all of their games against the same opponents; this can lead to "strength of schedule" disparities like those the NFL has to deal with on a yearly basis (e.g., one NL team might play every AL East team except the New York Yankees, while another NL team in the same division does not play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays instead).

External links

de:Interleague Games ja:インターリーグ