Interleague play begins its 15th year this weekend with both exciting matchups and some duds as well.
This weekend is the first of interleague play for the 2011 Major League Baseball season. Originally starting in 1997, interleague play was introduced mainly to allow fans to see teams in person that they had only previously seen on TV. Fans in Kansas City would get to see Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire white fans in Pittsburgh would get to see Ken Griffey Jr or the New York Yankees. It would also allow geographical rivals to meet up in games that would actually count. Mets/Yankees, Cubs/White Sox, A's/Giants and so on.
The first few years were exciting and seemed to add some new excitement to what can be a very long season. It also increased revenue at the ballpark as attendance rose for the interleague matchups.
Fifteen years later the question needs to be asked: Do people still care about interleague play? Yes, the Cubs and White Sox is always a fun series, but would three games a season be better than the current six? Does it need to go back to the format where each division plays against the other division? Why do the Cardinals get to play six games against the Royals each season and the Cubs have to play the White Sox? These and other questions will always remain.
Is Interleague play perfect? No. Is it still exciting? It can be. For every interesting series this weekend like Cubs/Red Sox,are some duds as well. I don't imagine that a kid in San Diego is calling his dad to leave work early so that they can go see the Mariners tonight.
There may not be a scheduling solution that will make everyone happy, but Interleague play will remain with us as long as it increases attendance and thus revenue at the ballpark. Besides, if you were a Padres fan it would be kind of a nice change to see the Mariners every couple years as opposed to having to see the Pirates every season.