Interleague play produces its share of yawners every year.
An Athletics-Padres series probably doesn’t cause seismic waves along the West Coast, and there’s little rhyme or reason to a Tigers-Rockies matchup.
But when it comes to the Cubs, interleague play has been a big deal with every series this year.
Just when the Boston Red Sox are leaving town after a pair of nationally televised games, the Cubs get set to play the White Sox for the second time this season beginning Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
You saw what happened when the Detroit Tigers came to town last week: It seemed half of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula was at Wrigley Field during the three games and in the Clark Street bars afterward.
And the Cubs drew near sellout crowds at Target Field in Minneapolis.
“Pretty much all of them we’re playing, the Tigers, and obviously, we know how many Tiger fans were here,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday. “And then the Red Sox and then the White Sox six times. We just had that draw this year where we had big-time teams we were playing against and our six games against the White Sox.”
Even when they’re bad, the Cubs are an interleague sensation, perhaps for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. Before Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox at Wrigley Field, one ESPN camera person was shooting another ESPN camera person shooting Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro during pregame warm-ups.
The question of fairness in the scheduling always comes up. The Cubs play three teams from the American League Central (White Sox, Tigers, Twins) and one from the AL East (Red Sox).
Because the Cubs and White Sox are “natural rivals,” they play each other six times. The Cubs are in last place in the NL Central while the Sox lead the AL Central.
“It’s the million-dollar question with interleague play because year to year, teams can be a lot better,” Sveum said. “I think the one thing that hurts it a little bit is teams having to play teams six times. That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I think that’s the way the balance gets off a little bit.
“There’s only us, New York against New York, L.A. against L.A., San Francisco against Oakland. Other than that, there’s not really any other so-called rivalries, big-time rivalries. That’s what can kind of throw things off a little bit. That’s something I don’t think is going to change because it means so much to the cities and the ballclubs that play, the big-time rivalries.”
And then there’s the DH. National League teams gain it in AL parks. American League teams lose one of their big hitters in NL parks. But don’t look for that to change, either.
“I think the DH has its place,” Sveum said. “I think it’s nice to be able to see some great hitters get another five or six years because of the DH. We’d have missed out on some five, six great years of guys like I played with — Paul Molitor, Edgar Martinez.
“You can go on and on. It’s nice for fans to be able to see their heroes for another five or six years. It is what it is. I think all that’s fine.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.