Friday, June 19, 2009

Yet Another Reason Why Interleague Play Sucks

Tonight the Yankees kick off a nine game swing through National League parks, meaning their pitchers will have to bat. And run. Which, as we learned last year, could be a disastrous proposition.

Regardless of where you stand on whether the DH belongs in the game, it presents one of the biggest problems with interleague play. It isn't particularly fair to have NL clubs, whose rosters aren't constructed with a DH in mind, enter an AL park and play with a DH. And it certainly isn't fair to have an AL team enter an NL park and have their pitchers bat, when many of them haven't done so regularly since high school.

Yesterday, Mother Nature helped teach us another lesson as to why interleague play sucks. Sure, a rainout during the Subway Series leads to the novelty split stadium doubleheader. But in any other case, as detailed earlier, a rainout wreaks havoc. Because of the gimmickry of interleague play, teams only see each other once. So an interleague rainout can create serious problems and is thus avoided at all costs. That's why MLB forces fans to sit through five hour rain delays on days like yesterday. At least the Yankees had the good sense to reward yesterday's ticket holders with freebie tickets. All else being equal, there was no way the Yankees should have played yesterday. Of course, you could make the argument that given their performance, the Yankees really didn't play yesterday.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way three years ago. After forking over a small fortune to take my father and brothers to Old Timers' Day against the Marlins, we spent hours sitting in the rain. The tarp stayed on the field as the Old Timers were introduced. There was no Old Timers' game, which surely prevented a few broken hips.

After a delay, the game finally started. After an inning plus of baseball, the tarp was called for again. An interminable delay ensued before the game was finally called. Because it was an interleague series, the game was rescheduled as the back end of a day-night doubleheader the following day.

I was one of 6,809 who showed up for the make-up game. Our seats were in the tier boxes along the rightfield line. With the Stadium being virtually empty, after the top of the first we chose to move directly behind the plate for a better view. As the second batter in the bottom of the first, Derek Jeter lined a foul ball exactly where we had just been sitting. There wasn't a soul within four sections of it, but from our new location we had no chance of getting to it before the other seventy-five people in the upper deck.

A couple innings later, the Yankees closed the upper deck, just as they did yesterday. We moved down to the main level. After choosing our new seats, I noticed that there were some cameras in the seats directly in front of us. While we were seated much closer than we had been, we still weren't close enough to be near any of the TV cameras.

After about a half inning, I realized we were seated behind the cast of YES' Ultimate Road Trip, the since-cancelled reality show that had a group of Yankee fans attend every game of the season. That season, one of the girls on the show was pretty cute, so I was satisfied with our new location.

A few innings later, Stadium staffers showed up to move the Road Trippers down to field boxes. I made some smart-ass remark about how we couldn't get upgraded since we didn't have a TV show. The cute one said something like "Oh, but we never get good seats". Yeah, but you get to go to every game for free; my heart really goes out to you.

That was about as exciting as it got that night. I managed to sneak into a couple shots when the episode aired. In the end, the Yankees and future G.M. tosser Shawn Chacon were shutout 5-0 by rookie pitcher Anibal Sanchez. The team played like they didn't care to be there. Sound familiar?

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