Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Ready for interleague already?
The realignment of the Astros to the American League this year had one significant domino effect on the rest of baseball: Because there are now 15 teams in each league, interleague play is necessary throughout the entire season.
Back in the "good ole days" of interleague play, games between the two leagues were confined to a couple of days in May and a two-week stretch in June. Now, though, you had a season-opening series between the Angels and Reds (not exactly longstanding rivals) followed by a weekend series between the Royals and Phillies.
And next up, this newfangled new twist comes to Washington, with the White Sox in town to face the Nationals the next three nights.
No, the Nats haven't yet faced three of their four division rivals. But they will face a team from the AL Central during the second week of April.
Then again, it could be worse: At least the Nationals don't have to close the regular season with interleague play. The Tigers and Marlins get to hold that distinct honor.
While acknowledging the strangeness of this predicament, the Nats understand they can't do anything about the schedule MLB assigns them. They also understand they're at less of a disadvantage this week than Chicago, which one week into the season has to forfeit its designated hitter and field a lineup of only eight regulars.
That's especially a problem when your regular DH is a guy named Adam Dunn, who (bless his heart) tried his best to play the field during his time in the NL (including 2009-10 here in D.C.) but is a major liability with a glove on his left hand.
With Paul Konerko already entrenched at first base, Dunn may actually see playing time in left field this week, White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters. That image could be worth the price of admission.
Davey Johnson won't have to think about adding a DH to his lineup until late-May, when the Nationals play their first two road interleague games of the season in Baltimore. Prior to that, they'll host the Tigers (May 7-8) and Orioles (May 27-28).
The rest of Washington's spread-out interleague slate: vs. Minnesota (June 7-9), at Cleveland (June 14-16), at Detroit (July 30-31), at Kansas City (Aug. 23-25).
So, what do you think? Do you like this new wrinkle to interleague play? Do you even like interleague play at all?