Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Love it or hate it, we're stuck with it. I don't mean the DH, or the car salesman Commissioner/multiple team owner with the world's first successful charisma bypass, or the slush in Toronto, at least this time. I'm referring to June baseball, which can skew the standings and alter pennant races, with no semblance of fairness. Last year, for example, the Oakland A's went 16-2 in interleague play, providing their entire margin of victory in the AL West over the 11-7 Angels. The Athletics defeated their cross-bay rivals 4-2, and swept the sad-sack NL Central in 12 games. But they didn't have to play the division's best team, the Cardinals, at all, while St. Louis took 2 of 3 from the Angels.

The Blue Jays were a respectable 9-9 in 2002 against the much tougher NL West; this year they get six with the Expos, as usual, but the Cubs, Pirates and Reds (collectively 11-25 last year vs. the AL West) should improve their record. Oakland gets Atlanta, Philly and Florida this year instead of Milwaukee; combined with opening the season a week early on the road -- way on the road, vs. Ichiro & Co. in Tokyo -- the A's path to 100 wins will be quite a bit steeper.

Here's each team's 2002 record against the various divisions in their own league, and in interleague play:

National League Eastern Central Western Interleague
--------------- ------- ------- ------- -----------

Arizona Diamondbacks 21-11 23-13 43-33 11-7
Atlanta Braves 47-28 24-12 15-16 15-3
Chicago Cubs 12-18 36-54 13-17 6-6
Cincinnati Reds 12-18 50-40 14-16 2-10
Colorado Rockies 18-14 17-19 31-45 7-11
Florida Marlins 36-40 18-18 15-17 10-8
Houston Astros 16-14 49-41 14-16 5-7
Los Angeles Dodgers 20-12 20-16 40-36 12-6
Milwaukee Brewers 7-23 35-55 12-18 2-10
Montreal Expos 37-39 21-15 13-19 12-6
New York Mets 35-41 20-15 10-22 10-8
Philadelphia Phillies 34-41 22-14 14-18 10-8
Pittsburgh Pirates 16-13 43-47 10-20 3-9
St. Louis Cardinals 11-19 57-33 21-9 8-4
San Diego Padres 16-16 13-23 29-47 8-10
San Francisco Giants 17-14 23-13 47-29 8-10

American League Eastern Central Western Interleague
--------------- ------- ------- ------- -----------

Anaheim Angels 28-13 30-15 30-28 11-7
Baltimore Orioles 26-50 18-14 14-22 9-9
Boston Red Sox 51-25 19-17 18-14 5-13
Chicago White Sox 18-14 40-36 15-21 8-10
Cleveland Indians 19-17 37-39 12-20 6-12
Detroit Tigers 11-25 29-46 9-23 6-12
Kansas City Royals 10-22 33-43 14-22 5-13
Minnesota Twins 15-17 50-25 19-17 10-8
New York Yankees 46-29 29-7 17-15 11-7
Oakland Athletics 23-22 32-9 32-26 16-2
Seattle Mariners 25-20 23-18 34-24 11-7
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 25-50 13-19 10-26 7-11
Texas Rangers 25-16 18-27 20-38 9-9
Toronto Blue Jays 41-35 16-16 12-24 9-9

A bit ragged, but the HTML "PRE" command isn't perfect, and you get the idea. Since I tend to use stats only to support my preconceived notions, it's no surprise that what jumps out at me is just how terrible the AL Central and NL Central are, despite each having one good team and one decent one. Conversely, most people underestimate the Rangers, Rockies and Padres, who have the misfortune of playing in much tougher divisions.

Sorry, my point was about interleague play, an aberration that destroys any pretext of balance in the already cockeyed schedule. What really ticks me off is that I'm a sucker for this blatant MLB marketing ploy -- I had to see Barry Bonds last year, and it was one of my most memorable games ever, just for his batting practice show. And I'm strongly hinting that at least one of my kids should accompany their eccentric old man to the 2003 Father's Day sleepover at SkyDome when Sammy Sosa's in town. I hear they're drawing straws.
Interleague Play | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Coach - Saturday, January 04 2003 @ 01:19 PM EST (#100084) #
Hey, that table didn't turn out as bad as it looked in the preview, so I'll add these "standings:"
Division       W     L     PCT    +/- .500   GBL 
-------- --- --- --- -------- ---
AL West 367 281 .566 +86 --
NL West 424 385 .524 +39 23.5
NL East 418 388 .519 +30 28
AL East 396 412 .490 -16 51
NL Central 454 517 .468 -63 74.5
AL Central 366 442 .453 -76 81
The number that impresses me most? The difference between the AL West and the AL Central, relative to .500, is exactly 162 games in one season.

Did you realize that the Red Sox lost 5 of 6 to the Braves and got swept by both the Dodgers and D-Backs in 2002? That 1-11 stretch, while The A's and Angels got fat against inferior opposition, was the difference between Boston making and missing the playoffs -- and it had nothing to do with the American League, where said pennant race supposedly took place.

That does it -- I don't even like the BoSox, but what an outrage. If I want to see NL superstars, I'll go to Montreal, while they still have a team. Cancel my sleepover reservation, kids; I'm in protest mode! So now I'm boycotting interleague games and so-called premium pricing, if that's implemented. Bring on the D-Rays, Royals and Tigers in those midweek matinees.
_Scott Lucas - Saturday, January 04 2003 @ 08:53 PM EST (#100085) #
Interleague play is one of those ideas that works great in theory but not in practice. Take the AL West, for example. The Rangers' interleague "partner" (meaning 6 games played instead of three) is Houston, Anaheim has LA, and Oakland has SF. Assuming the Giants backslide a bit, those opponents are roughly equal. But Seattle gets six games against San Diego, a considerably easier opponent.

On the other hand, Seattle and Oakland have to play Philadelphia AND Atlanta, while Texas skips the Phillies and Anaheim misses Atlanta. Reversing the point of view, Atlanta gets to play Texas but misses Anaheim, while Philly misses Texas but has to play Anaheim.

To quote Cosmo Kramer, "I have to say this seems capricious and arbitrary."

Sidebar: the Rangers first 25 games are against Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim, New York and Boston, all of whom combined for a .607 winning percentage in 2002. As a reward, they get three games in Toronto.
Interleague Play | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.