Friday, June 12, 2009

Let's Tweak Interleague A Tad

For 156 games a season, I could care less about what the Mets do.

Actually, to be honest, I kinda want them to win. It makes my grandfather happy and New York gets an extra buzz in October when both teams are in the playoffs.

But for six games, I'm supposed to care about beating the Mets with a passion that rivals when the Yankees play the Red Sox.

And for the first Subway Series of the year, I do. I want to the Yankees to crush the Mets and claim the city's bragging rights. But by the second series, that passion wanes.

We're supposed to treat these two series like Armageddon, when in the big picture they are no more important to either team than, say, a series against the Twins or Reds.

Interleague play has been a great thing for baseball, and there is no way I'd ever even suggest completely doing away with the Subway Series. It is great for the city and for its baseball fans.

But what I am saying is that two series a season is overdone. It's just too much and the novelty wears off.

So I'm going to endorse an idea floated by The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore a few weeks ago: rather than the Yankees and Mets playing two series a year and the Red Sox playing a series against the Phillies and Braves each season, baseball should change the schedule to have the Yankees and Sox each play one series every year against the Mets and Phillies.

This would serve to strengthen the entire northeast baseball rivalry and also balance out the schedule between the ultra-competitive teams in each league. The Mets-Sox series and Phillies-Yankees series earlier this season were both tremendous. Why not see that every year as well?

Besides, the Braves ties to Boston weaken with each passing year and as a generation slowly passes away. Really, how many Boston fans, say, 40 and younger really feel a strong bond to the Braves?

Anyway, this Subway Series shapes up well for the Yankees with Joba Chamberlain (3-1, 3.79 ERA) facing Livan Hernandez (5-1, 3.88) tonight and Andy Pettitte (6-2, 4.22) taking on spot starter Fernando Nieve (0-0, 0.00) Saturday.

On the surface, the Yankees should take the first two games without much problem, though they are known to struggle against pitchers, such as Nieve, whom they've never faced before.

The Sunday game could be a great matchup with A.J. Burnett (4-3, 4.89) going up against Johan Santana (8-3, 2.39). Santana is as good as it gets and is tough to beat, but Burnett has a lot to prove after Tuesday's awful start against Josh Beckett and the Red Sox.

Burnett needs to bounce back and put forth a big effort. If the Yankees are going to have a chance in that game, it will be because Burnett pitches very well and keeps them in the game. If he doesn't, well, the Yanks can just write that one off.


Anonymous said...

first of all, it makes more than just grandpa happy... mets victories makes your cousin happy too! anyway, it should be like football. why should the mets have to play the yankees every year when another NL team is playing the o's? and instead of 1 series, i think it should be two 2-game series, keeping the home field advantage even, and only have 4 games against the "rival" from the other league. what do you think?

Aviv said...

Two 2-game series might be too complicated to work for the schedule makers. They'd likely have to set up two 2-games series for every other teams, which might create travel issues. The home field would even out from year-to-year, so not such a big deal.

But the bigger point about the unbalanced interleague schedule is well taken.