Breaking down the 2013 interleague schedule for all 30 teams. What teams are forced to deviate from their regular roster/lineup construction for the longest stretch of the year?
With the Astros finally moved into the American League, we have a very different interleague schedule this year. Not only does it mean that there is now at least one interleague series happening each day of the season, from April to October, it also means that the "rivalry weekends" that were the highlights of the interleague schedule fifteen years ago have been re-shaped. Additionally, the newly balanced divisions mean that, outside of the rivalry games, all teams in a given division can play the exact same teams as their divisional opponents. No longer do the schedule makers have to worry about a six-team division matching up with a four-team division.
So how did the schedule makers do? Did the schedule turn out as balanced as can be? Were they able to ensure that teams from any one division would have the same opponents as their division-mates? Were all clubs given the same number of interleague matches or did some lucky squad or two end up a series short? One thing to remember here is that, with interleague games happening all year long instead of on two or three specific weekends, clubs are now on unequal footing when it comes to setting their rosters for the change in league rules. If one team, for example, only ever has to worry about forcing their pitchers to hit one weekend a month, they are probably in a better situation than the club forced to suddenly remove their all-star DH for nine straight games. National League clubs playing in American League ballparks will have similar problems in trying to add a DH for extended periods of time.
Once again, the battle between the leagues goes to the AL in convincing fashion.
After 252 interleague games, we have a final tally for 2012: AL 142, NL 110. That's a .563 winning percentage for the AL, which translates to a 91-win pace over a 162-game season. The AL has now taken the NL's lunch money in interleague play for nine consecutive seasons.
After completing a three-game sweep of the Nationals in D.C., the Yankees are starting to look like the real Bronx Bombers.
The Weekend Takeaway
The Yankees and Nationals both came into this weekend’s series at Nationals Park on six-game winning streaks. But after Danny Espinosa grounded out to end Sunday’s finale, New York was on cloud nine and Washington was three in the hole.
Though the Dodgers have one more win than the Yankees and four more than the Nationals, by most measures, the teams that squared off in the nation’s capital this past weekend were the two best in baseball right now. After a month and a half of lurking in the background and struggling to find a rhythm, Joe Girardi’s squad has resoundingly announced its presence with the recent surge.
The Yankees' double switch on Saturday leads to a dumbshow in the outfield.
In the eighth inning of Saturday's Yankees-Nationals game, Joe Girardi attempted to double switch. The goal was to replace pitcher Cory Wade with Boone Logan, shift DeWayne Wise from left to right field, and bench Andruw Jones in favor of Jayson Nix. But the Yankees, being an AL team, don't double switch often. All hell broke loose.
Of all the natural interleague rivalries, none are more viciously fought than the Vedder Cup series. Wait, you've never heard of it? Then read on!
When Major League Baseball introduced interleague play in 1997, Bud Selig decreed that certain teams would be “natural rivals.” One such “rivalry” pits the San Diego Padres against the Seattle Mariners, presumably because they share a spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz.
Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder has called San Diego and Seattle home at various points in his life, ergo the series is played for a “Vedder Cup” that doesn't actually exist, which is fine because Vedder is a Cubs fan. Much like the “rivalry” itself, none of this makes any sense.
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The perversion of the schedule to enjoy a few geographic rivalries has an outsized effect on who's playing in October, at least for one more season.
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The Astros' move to the AL may make interleague play (which begins today) more balanced, but for now, some scheduling inequities persist. Joe Sheehan summarized the situation in the piece reproduced below, which originally ran as a "Daily Prospectus" column on June 16, 2008.
An exercise in quantifying the superiority of the junior circuit over the senior.
The National League may lay claim to two of the last three World Champions, but little doubt exists in most observers' minds that the American League has become the superior league in recent years. Not only do they have 13-year undefeated streak in the All-Star Game (including the infamous 2002 tie), but they've gotten the upper hand on the senior circuit in interleague play, winning at a .522 clip since it was instituted in 1997. They've held an even bigger advantage in each of the past five years, posting a .566 winning percentage over that time span.
Drilling down even more deeply into the subject to find out where, why, and how.
In trying to understand home-field advantage, we have asked what home-field advantage actually makes a team do better, and we have asked who has the biggest home-field advantage. The first article of this series answered the question of what home-field advantage actually makes you do better-everything, as home teams do better on walks, strikeouts, balls in play, and errors. They are better at pitching, hitting, baserunning, and defense, and all aspects of their games seem to improve. The second article of this series showed that most teams have pretty much the same size home-field advantage, with the exception of the Rockies. Even though natural luck can make a team look like they are particularly good or bad at home, the 29 non-Rockies teams are pretty much right around eight percent home-field advantage, plus or minus a little statistical noise.
Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to take the three-game interleague series two games to one. Rematches of the previous year's World Series combatants have been a fascinating byproduct of interleague play. Even more fascinating is the role Pat Burrell plays in this one.
The perversion of the schedule to enjoy a few geographic rivalries has an outsized effect on who's playing in October.
Through two series of interleague play, the Red Sox are 5-1 while the Rays are 3-3. The White Sox are 4-2 while the Indians are 2-4. The Braves are 4-2, the Phillies, 1-2. The Diamondbacks are 3-3, and the Dodgers are 1-5. Interleague play has the potential to create situations in which a division winner or wild-card entrant into the postseason is actually the team with the second-best mark among its competition in its own league. Interleague play has changed the outcomes of playoff races, and has the potential to do so in every season.
Rounding up the results of this year's cross-league competition.
Paul Konerko is very highly regarded inside baseball, so much so that White Sox General Manager Ken Williams believes the Chicago first baseman could wind up taking his job some day. So, Konerko is a good man to talk with when you want to gauge players' views on various issues. Thus, with interleague play having just celebrated its 10th anniversary and having come to an end for this season this past Sunday, it seemed a fitting occasion to ask Konerko about his thoughts on American League and National League teams playing each other.
"I think the novelty has worn off," Konerko states, pointing out that a rematch of the White Sox visiting the Pirates for a second straight year this season probably didn't stir fans' imaginations in either Chicago or Pittsburgh. "For the most part, they are just other games to play and they can be a bother at times because interleague play can play havoc with the schedule. The natural rivalry games, like White Sox-Cubs or Yankees-Mets, are still exciting. I know the people in Chicago gets excited when we play the Cubs. The other games, though? I just don't see the excitement anymore."