The Detroit Tigers will play nine of their next 12 games against National League opponents, six of them in NL ballparks without the benefit of a designated hitter. This is not their first foray into interleague play in 2019, nor their first trip to an NL park, but it marks their longest stretch of games against NL opponents this year.
We’ll get to the Question of the Day in a moment, but first, a history lesson. Interleague play began in 1997, and started exclusively with games against the opposite division (i.e. the AL Central only played against the NL Central). Interleague play expanded to its current format in 2012, including the current geographical rivals in place today. All interleague series took place at the same time leading up to 2013, but were forced to change to the more scattershot scheduling we currently have when the Houston Astros moved to the American League, leaving an odd number of teams in both leagues.
Here’s our question:
What do you think of interleague play?
My answer: I don’t mind it. Playing the Twins, Royals, and other AL Central clubs 19 times every year gets a bit tiresome, and it’s fun to see the Tigers match up with new opponents. Even with the ability to watch any game at any time from anywhere in the world (except Iowa), we don’t get to see the National League’s stars and best teams all that often. The Tigers play 14 NL teams just once every three years, and travel to those cities once every six. As someone who lives in Washington, D.C., it would be nice to see the Tigers play at Nationals Park more than once every half-decade.
As for those who want to eliminate interleague play: why? It has already been in place for 22 years, making for an entire generation of baseball fans that have only known the 162-game schedule with some dates against NL opponents, myself included; I was nine years old when it first started, and didn’t start to follow the game seriously until well after that. Some rule changes over the years (the DH, for instance) have been for the better, and I think interleague play is one of those.
If anything, I’d like to see it expanded, especially after a couple of inevitable rule changes, in (a) the universal designated hitter, and (b) expansion to 32 teams. Having 32 teams would make scheduling a little cleaner, as it would not require an interleague series to go on at all times. The universal DH makes sense for a number of reasons, and would eliminate the awkward swings we see when AL pitchers are forced to take a handful of at-bats every year.
Plus, it would be fun to see the Tigers play the Expos one day.