I’ll be the first to admit that for the most part, I have enjoyed interleague play since its inception in 1997. As a fan, I have been able to watch the Orioles play teams that I would have never gotten a chance to see under normal circumstances.
For example, Albert Pujols is coming to Camden Yards next week. A few years before Sammy Sosa arrived in Baltimore, the Orioles made the trip to Wrigley, which was pretty neat. I remember when the Birds traveled to Chavez Ravine when Eric Gagne was the star of the Dodgers. That too was pretty cool to experience as a fan.
That being said, I think the biggest reason why I enjoyed interleague play so much growing up was because it was a novelty. It was different. I enjoyed seeing the different teams with the different players wearing different uniforms. It was funny watching Daniel Cabrera and Jason Johnson attempt to swing a baseball bat. It was equally as comical watching American League managers attempt to adhere to the National League rules and strategies.
The Orioles playing National League teams, especially in National League parks, was unique. It was fun. Our society gets bored very easily. Interleague play spiced things up because it wasn’t the same old teams playing in the same old stadiums.
I feel baseball is at a point now where the concept of interleague play needs to be examined once again. No longer is interleague play a huge hit at the ticket window. Fans have been taking in interleague play every season since 1997. What once was uncommon is now common. Matchups that once were different and fun are becoming standard and boring.
At this point in 2011, interleague play is just not necessary. It also isn’t fair.
When American League teams travel to National League parks, they lose their DH. Boston is forced to either sit David Ortiz or put him at first, leaving him at risk and severely hurting the entire defense. We saw first-hand Friday night how the Orioles lost their cleanup hitter save for a 6th inning pinch-hit appearance. On top of that, the overwhelming majority of American League pitchers are helpless with a bat in their hands. So often in interleague games, the American League team will rally, only to have the number eight hitter come up and get intentionally walked while the lame duck pitcher goes on to strike out to end an inning.