Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interleague Play: Al's Ultimate Learning Experience

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Interleague Play: Al's Ultimate Learning Experience

Article excerpt

Perhaps you hate interleague play, since it disturbs the natural order of baseball.

But please, people, let's be big about it. This is an opportunity for the National League to reach out to American League teams and fans - underschooled as they are - and teach them the finer points of Our National Pastime.

We understand that not everybody is in a sharing mood. It's bad enough that the NL has to deal with the Colorado Rockies, a misplaced AL team in a launching-pad ballpark. Now the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics want to come calling on our hallowed grounds. Why must we put up with this? Why not leave the two leagues separate forever and ever, maintaining the mystique of the World Series and the National League's smug sense of superiority? The purists and traditionalists are up in arms, but I'd agree with Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella - a former NL skipper who preaches pragmatism. "When you think about it, baseball is probably the most impure of all the sports," he said. "I don't think baseball is that much of a traditionalist sport. They've all made changes to please the fans, to get more people in the ballpark. We've got a DH in one league, we've got different strike zones in each league. How traditional are you talking about?" Baseball is in a reconstruction era and it needs the NL's help. There is no point in being selfish. Our National Pastime needs to get nuance, strategy and pace back into the games. It will never be much of an action sport. We can't put skates on baserunners, water hazards in the infield and rocket launchers in the hands of noodle-armed outfielders. Creating an "X-Games" feel to baseball would scare off older fans and kill or maim inattentive players. Although some managers may endorse this concept - like beleaguered Los Angeles manager Bill Russell - insurance costs would blow the whole project out of the water. So baseball has to take a more subtle approach and create more games within games, more intrigue and anticipation. The AL offers a very sedentary game, downplaying base stealing, bunting and hitting and running to gear up for big innings. …

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