I’m looking very much forward to the huge early season match-up between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend.
It’s going to be a great battle, not only between the two teams with the best record in the National League. It’s a grudge match between a couple of clubs that don’t much care for each other thanks to recent playoff headbutting.
It’s the stuff big games are made of.
I only wish the powers that be in Major League Baseball would get rid of interleague play so that we could see more of these traditional, compelling rivalry games and less of the contrived set ups against teams that don’t even play in the same league.
I wonder if a lot of younger fans realize the depth of the rivalry between teams like the Dodgers and Giants, going back to the days that those teams called Brooklyn and New York home.
Why would they? Those clubs used to come to St. Louis multiple times a season from the days when Brooklynites awed by Stan Musial coined the Hall of Famer’s “Stan the Man” nickname through the contentious playoff battles between the clubs in the 1980s.
No one in St. Louis cared about the Cincinnati Reds or the Chicago Cubs back then. The rivals were the Jeffrey Leonard and Will Clark-led Giants and the Dodgers with Pedro Guerrero, Steve Sax and Orel Hershiser. Who can forget tilts against the dreaded New York Mets with Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden?
Now those teams are here once a year to make room for games against the likes of the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. Be still my beating heart.
Not only is there no true rivalry between those clubs and St. Louis. But the nature of interleague play makes the games relatively meaningless because the Cardinals aren’t battling those teams for the National League pennant. It’s also inherently unfair that teams in one league fighting for the same prize play different clubs from a different league to decide who is the best.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a level playing field decide who gets to represent their division and league in the playoffs?
Let’s also not forget this interleague nonsense is also to blame for the threat of designated hitter being spread like the plague through the National League baseball world. Enough!
Can’t we just get rid of the whole interleague deal and go to a balanced schedule with more games against traditional foes and less of the manufactured fluff?
It wouldn’t only allow the Cardinals to play the Cardinals, Giants And Mets more often. It would allow the Kansas City Royals to renew their rivalry with the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates to take on their cross-state rivals the Philadelphia Phillies more often.
When it gets down to it, aren’t those the kind of games that make fans want to buy tickets?
But they’ll never get rid of interleague play. Why? Because it makes too much sense to do so.