Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 4/13/13
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We all knew this was coming. As soon as Bud Selig forced the Astros to move to the American League as a part of the sales agreement this problem was bound to come up. I want to get one thing out of the way; I love interleague play. I think it is great. Interleague play was a great way to split up some of the monotony of the season by playing new teams. As a young Yankee fan I can remember going to a game when the Cubs came to Yankee Stadium, something that was not possible aside from the World Series before 1997. I think it is awesome that teams the leagues mix and fans can see players and teams and styles that they normally wouldn’t have seen. But moving the Astros to the American League caused a huge problem that I cannot stand. I guess the move was inevitable, I mean, it was kind of unfair that the National League had more teams than the American League so they needed to fight against more teams to get a playoff spot. But I really don’t think this was the way to solve that problem. via espn.go.com By having the Astros move AL, there are now 15 teams in each league. Yes, the two leagues now have an equal number of teams, but as we know from elementary school mathematics, 15 is an odd number. To fix this problem on every day of the season an AL team will play an NL team. This creates a problem for American League teams. All AL teams have a DH. Some such as the Red Sox, the Royals, the Angels, don’t have a place to play their DH in the field even though their bat is incredibly important to the team. During Spring Training the Royals tried to put first basemen Eric Hosmer in right field so DH Billy Butler could play first base. But when the Royals played in Philadelphia for their first interleague series, Butler was not in the lineup. Now you could just say, “this is just one game in April, it wont effect them too much.” Or maybe you think, “well, wouldn’t they need to figure this out in June or July anyway?” Yes, teams would need to figure out what to do with their DH in June and July also, but now this is affecting teams all year. And yes, maybe this is just a game in April, but it counts just as much as the games in August and September. Teams will be really upset when they need to play an interleague series the final weekend of the season. Photo: (AP/Paul Sancya) How happy will the White Sox be when they are in a race with the Tigers at the end of the year and the Tigers get to play 3 easy games against Miami? Better yet, how happy will Jim Leyland be when he needs to shake up his lineup because he might want Victor Martinez to hit? Or what about if Justin Verlander gets hurt in that last series in Miami while he is hitting and misses the playoffs? What about when the Red Sox are in a battle with everyone else in the AL East for the division title or for a Wild Card spot and David Ortiz makes an error at first base because he is forced to play there so his bat is in the lineup? Teams will not be happy that they need to go play a different game when they are in the middle of a pennant race. The creation of interleague play all the time will push the league to do something it was trying not to do; add the DH to the National League. It is only fair that both leagues play by the same rules if they are going to play all year long. It is not fair to put an AL team at a disadvantage at the end of the year by taking a big bat out of a lineup. Also, I realize that many people would rather see the DH rule be taken out of the MLB all together but that is just not going to happen. The designated hitter is used at every level of baseball from high school to college to the minors to (half of) the majors so it is not going away. Also, the MLB Players Association is would never allow the league to take away the job of 15 people by getting rid of the DH. So the idea of getting rid of the DH after 40 years of the rule is just about completely out of the question. My solution to even up the number of teams in each league would be very different from what the MLB did. I would have added 2 teams to the American League. There are plenty of places that the league could add teams. First off I would try again in Montreal. One of the biggest problems there was that the team was in need of a new stadium and the owner Jeffrey Loria (yes the Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria) didn’t want to pay for it, but (unlike Miami) the city wouldn’t give him money. So Loria didn’t do anything and then was forced to sell the team (something the MLB should do again, but that is for another article). Also, because the AL had 2 fewer teams than the NL, the new Montreal franchise (lets just call them the Expos) would be an American League team. By adding the Expos to the AL East, Major League Baseball would have formed a natural Canadian rivalry between the Expos and Blue Jays who would meet almost 20 times a year in division play. via rbimagazine.com After that is resolved, you just need to find another market. And there are really so many out there. Maybe another Texas team in San Antonio. Maybe New Orleans. Maybe even down south to Mexico City. And there must be other places I cannot think of right now that could bid for this second new AL MLB franchise. One problem with this idea is that there is a conception that baseball is a dying sport, which I don’t believe is the case. Just take a look at the Forbes’ valuations of MLB franchises. Of course teams like the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers and Red Sox increased in value, but even teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates increased in value by 40 and 43% respectively. If that is the sign of a dying sport, I would love to see what baseball is like when it is thriving. So yes, I really like interleague play, but I cannot stand to think that it could really make an impact in September when a team is going to need to take a big bat out of the lineup or put someone in the field who hasn’t played the field all that much in their career. With interleague play every day of the MLB season, it will only accelerate the addition of the DH rule in the NL. Bud Selig has been an advocate for expanding the game around the world by having teams play in Japan and creating the World Baseball Classic, so why would he be opposed to creating 2 new teams and putting them in Canada and Mexico. This would help Selig expand the game to new areas even if there is already interest in the MLB in Canada and Mexico. Also, it would solve his problem of not having the same number of teams in the AL and NL. Why not give it a try Commissioner Selig? It is so much better than what you have done with the Astros. -Goldberg
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