I'm pretty unhappy to hear about the latest tweaks to Major League Baseball, namely the transfer of the Houston Astros to the American League in time for the 2013 season and the addition of two more teams to the playoff picture.
Houston has been a National League city since 1965, so it's pretty sad to see an honorable, long-term foe disappear off the schedule. But I am more upset about the slippery slope of increased interleague play.
By moving the Astros to the American League, the powers that be will put 15 teams in the AL and the NL. An odd number of teams in each league means that there will have to be interleague play on a constant basis instead of the current format: Two weeks of boredom. But, even worse, it seems like the folks that run the game are using this new layout as a way to try to force the designated hitter on the National League.
If you're going to play more interleague games, NL teams are going to have to construct their clubs in a way that makes them better prepared for American League style games. So why not just go the whole nine yards and put the DH in both leagues and end the controversy?
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Because the DH stinks. Ask Tony La Russa, a career AL manager before he was hired by the Cardinals. La Russa said he fell for all the more offense equals more excitement hype -- until he saw the strategy and the pure beauty of the game as it was intended to play. Why don't we eliminate pitching and defense while we'rea at it and just play home run derby?
And leave it to baseball to respond to the greatest playoff race in history by gutting all the things that made it exciting.
The Cardinals' rundown of the Braves and the Ray's stalking of the Red Sox, two weeks of riveting baseball, would be completely eliminated under the new format that will add an extra wild card to each league. St. Louis's 10 1/2-game deficit to Atlanta that was erased is meaningless because the Cardinals and Atlanta would have both made the playoffs and played one game to decide who moved on.
The whole point of the long baseball season has always been to decisively determine who is the best team and who gets to go to the World Series. But the 162-game schedule has almost been made completely irrelivant by the fact that 1/3 of the teams in the game are in the post-season crapshoot.