Interleague play is a bad, bad thing.
It's not because major-league baseball fans don't like it. Most attendance figures have shown that interleague games have drawn somewhat better than regular, regular season games.
It's not because interleague play proved to help rejuvenate interest after the disastrous strike/lockout of 1994-95.
It's not because interleague play diminished the aura of the World Series, which until, 1997, was the only time teams from the American and National Leagues played in a game that counted.
Not the reason: It's not because fans in Cleveland get to see Barry Larkin play, or fans in Pittsburgh get to see Jermaine Dye.
It's not because National League teams have a distinct advantage with the designated hitter rule. NL teams' pitchers, who are used to hitting (well, trying to hit, anyway) are replaced by D.H.'s on the road, while, in games at N.L. parks, American League pitchers -- who should issue warnings before picking up a bat -- are forced to try to hit.
It's not because interleague games mean fewer trips to Jacobs Field for the New York Yankees, and fewer trips to PNC Park for the Atlanta Braves.
Interleague play is a bad thing, not because of all these reasons (or in spite of some them).
The gods are angry: Interleague play is a bad thing, because I think the baseball gods don't like it.
I'm serious about this. I'll be willing to wager that if we could ask Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig what they thought about the Yankees playing the Philadelphia Phillies, their answer would be something like, "You mean, those hapless Phillies finally got in the World Series?"
Or if you asked Ty Cobb his opinion of the Tigers going to Cincinnati for a series in July, he'd answer, "What the %$# & amp;* are you talkin' about?" (Ty wasn't known for his courteous demeanor.)
Watch the next time Dave Burba or some other American League pitcher steps into the batter's box in a NL park. The Indians might as well save the time by just taking an out and letting Kenny Lofton go to the plate.
(For the record, I detest the designated hitter rule. But, don't expect it to go away any time soon.)
If playing the same seven opponents 22 times each was good enough for Napoleon Lajoie in 1902, then it should be good enough for Jim Thome in 2001.
Baseball neophytes: I'm sure some of you reading this probably think I'm out of touch. In my defense, I'll enter as Exhibit A some of the people I've sat around at interleague games in Jacobs Field and PNC Park who couldn't have told me which league the visiting team was in if I had spotted them the "L."
You know who they are. They arrive late in the second or third inning and walk in front of you to their seats -- which are closer to the next aisle -- while play is going on. They leave and return and leave and return and leave and return, ad nauseam, in front of you, for who knows why. At least one of them thinks he knows something about the game, so he interjects his opinion after every pitch. The others, who don't know anything about the game, take his word as gospel.
("Ted, there's two outs in the fifth inning and Thome's up. What do you think he'll do?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to bunt here.")
These guys also have girlfriends attending their first game, maybe ever.
And then they leave early. Walking in front of you, naturally, and in the middle of a play.
You can call me a purist. Shoot, you can call me old-fashioned and out of touch. Just don't call me a fan of interleague play.
XRob Todor is sports editor of The Vindicator. Write him at email@example.com.