The Compelling Argument For Interleague Play

NEW YORK, NY - Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets is tagged out by Russell Martin #55 of the New York Yankees in the ninth inning of their game. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

It's easy to be snarky about interleague play. For example, the Chicago Cubs begin a series against the Minnesota Twins. Travis Wood will go against P.J. Walters. No one wants to see this. A Cubs beat writer -- I'm not naming names -- has already filed his recap for Friday night's game.

Sitting in a Minneapolis Hooters, eating plate after plate of chicken wings, and talking into your ex-wife's voicemail. Long, rambling, tearful messages. This transcends loneliness. This is something wholly comforting; an isolation that envelops me and somehow makes me feel even more loved.

The Cubs and Twins played last night. One of those two teams won. But, ma'am? This plate of chicken wings isn't going to refill itself, and if you could bring some ranch with a side of pathos, I think I'll stick around until the sun sinks into the sea.

In six years, someone will google "P.J. Walters chicken wings" because they mistakenly believe that P.J. Walters is a family-oriented chain restaurant. This will be the first time the recap will be read.

We get it. Sometimes there are less-than-desirable match-ups in interleague play. Bad teams playing bad teams. The purists don't like interleague play for a lot of reasons. That's one of them, but it's not the only one, nor is it the most compelling reason. Not that there's any consensus as to what a purist really is. Someone who wishes the league would eliminate divisions? Someone who yearns for the perfection attained between integration and the designated hitter? There are 1000 different permutations of purists. The thing that bonds them is that they all hate interleague play.

But I like interleague play. I don't look forward to it, necessarily. But when it comes around, I think to myself, "Hey, this is kind of neat." I am the only person alive who thinks this, apparently. So I figured I should make the definitive argument for interleague play, the kind of ironclad argument that will blow your mind and change how you think about baseball, and that you'll forward to your friends in an attempt to convince them there is magic in interleague play. So here goes:

The Compelling Argument for Interleague Play:

I dunno. It's kind of interesting. Because it's different and all.

I spent three hours on that, and I can guarantee you that's the best possible argument that can be made. It's different. Different isn't a synonym for interesting, but it's close enough in this case. Without looking it up, here's who the Mariners have played this season:

A's (home)
Rangers (home)
A's (away)
A's (home)
A's (away)
Rangers (away)
Angels (away)
Angels (home)
A's (home)
A's (away)
A's (home)
A's (away)
A's (home)
A's (away)
A's (home)
A's (away)
Rangers (away)
Angels (away)
Angels (home)

Mariners fans have opinions about Cliff Pennington. Honest, well-researched opinions about Cliff Pennington. They have no choice. That's what the baseball schedule forces upon them. This is what they've become.

And then, all of a sudden, here's Clayton Kershaw coming to Seattle. One of the best pitchers in baseball. It isn't that Mariners fans should be especially excited about the possibility of Kershaw pitching well against their team, but they get to watch him pitch. He's the kind of pitcher who makes you like baseball in the first place. I love watching Bartolo Colon pitch, but don't need to watch him three times in the first eight games of the season, which Mariners fans did.

Kershaw is a fresh face for Mariners fans, just like Stephen Strasburg will be for Red Sox fans, Brandon Beachy will be for Blue Jays fans, and Chris Sale will be for Astros fans. They'll help break up the monotony of seeing the same players over and over again in a 162-game season.

Which is a passive-aggressive argument against the unbalanced schedule, sure. And it isn't nearly as compelling as I'd like it to be. There probably isn't going to be an MLB-sponsored ad campaign with an "Interleague Play: I dunno. It's kind of interesting" any time soon. But for a couple of weekends every year, I like looking at the schedule and thinking, "Phillies and Orioles? Those two teams don't play each other that often. Say, this kind of interesting."

Check in with me after next season, when there's interleague play every week because of the 15-team leagues. Pretty sure I'll be over it then. But for now, interleague play isn't a travesty. It isn't a barrel of carbonated excitement. It's just a little different. And in a long, long, long season, a little different is certainly much appreciated, even if you have to wade through some Cubs/Twins to get there.

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