Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reason #467865 That Interleague Kinda Blows

Sports Illustrated

Interleague play in baseball just doesn't work. It's weird, since baseball is by far the longest season of any of the major professional sports, but it is the only one where each league (or conference) can't feasibly play each other. The reason, of course, is that baseball is the only sport where there are two different rules for each league. Think about that for a second. It's one of those things that is so obvious in baseball that people don't think about it enough. Imagine if in basketball, the East played without a three point line, while the West had one. That's what the DH rule does for the American League in baseball.

Personally, I would get rid of the DH rule. I think having the pitcher hits brings a lot more strategy into the game (more pinch hitters, more bullpen managers, the dreaded double switch). However, I wouldn't be too upset if both leagues adopted the DH rule. All I ask for is that every team in the league play under the same rules, which is kind of absurd that it even needs to be asked. 

The reason I even bring this up is because of a potential scenario facing the Red Sox during this current stretch of interleague play. After this series against the Padres at Fenway, the team will be traveling to National League cities for the next nine games. Because of this, there is a possibility that David Ortiz will have to sit nine straight games. The only position he is really able to play is first base, home to the best player on the team, Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox MVP candidate has already said before the year that he wants to play all 162 games, and is currently putting his money where his mouth is.

He is aware that it would be tough to sit someone as good as Ortiz for nine straight games. Yesterday, Gonzalez made it clear that he is willing to play the outfield so both bats could be in the lineup. As noble of a suggestion as that may be, Gonzalez in right field would be an absolute disaster. Remember, this is the guy who is the self-proclaimed slowest man in baseball. Any ball hit to right, but not directly at him would basically be an automatic extra base hit. On top of that, could you imagine if the Red Sox best player got injured because he was playing out of position? 

My take on the situation is that it won't happen. Francona said yesterday that he's keeping his mind open to it, but I doubt he could be so stupid. We all know how loyal Tito is to his guys, especially Ortiz. I think that he is just dreading having to tell Ortiz he will only play one, maybe two of the game during this road trip. He will probably sit Gonzalez before or after a day off, giving him a couple days of rest during the grind of a major league season. 

All of this could be avoided with matching rules for both leagues. The Red Sox have built a juggernaut of a lineup, but much of that success is built upon having Ortiz in that DH role. Let's just hope the team doesn't try to find a way to have both big bats in the lineup at once, because I just don't see how that could work for anybody.

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