For casual followers of the sport, I suppose the Yankees versus Mets sideshow provides a reason for those fans to get excited when they otherwise wouldn't. They get to dust off the old Esteban Loaiza or Luis Castillo jersey for a weekend or two and heckle their neighbor who roots for the cross town rival.
Yet I am a fanatic who follows the sport religiously. I am obsessed (or at least I am told by my friends I am) with the fantasy aspects of the game. I also think of myself as a purist. It's for those reasons that I can no longer understand why it is necessary for the New York Yankees and New York Mets to face each other six times during the regular season every year. Then again, I am still trying to comprehend why the Los Angeles Dodger have never made an appearance at Yankee Stadium during interleague play or why the Yankees played the Atlanta Braves six times in ten days earlier this month.
All I can proclaim is this - thank goodness the interleague madness is about to end for 2012.
Now MLB schedule makers have the task of coming up with a 2013 schedule that will include the Houston Astros moving to the AL West. This move creates two leagues with three divisions comprised of five teams each. Additionally, every week of the 2013 regular season will feature interleague play. Sorry fellow purists - you'll have to deal with that.
As reported by ESPN, the 2013 schedule will get slightly more complicated but provide a little more balance. In fact, while not carved in stone, the format will be very similar to an NFL-style schedule where there will be a divisional rotation of opponents every year. Unlike this season, every team will play the same amount (20) of interleague games.
For example, let's assume the Yankees play the NL West next season. They will have four, three game series (12 games), and one four game series (12+4=16) against the teams in that division. Where do the other four games come in? Yup - regardless of the division being played, the Yankees will still face the Mets four times (12+4+4-20) in what will be considered a 'natural rivalry' series. So in addition to the Mets versus Yankees rivalry, fans can look forward (sarcasm) to the annual meeting between the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates as well as the San Diego Padres versus the Seattle Mariners.
Of course the Texas Rangers will now get to feast off of the Houston Astros 15 or 16 times a year.
When the Bombers play the NL East, does that mean the Yankees and Mets will face off ten times that year? Details on that are fuzzy at best but that seems to be the way MLB is leaning.
Perhaps I am naive or too much of a traditionalist. Interleague games sounded innocent enough back in 1997 but somehow it has lost it's edge. It no longer 'feels' special. After all, it was unique to see the Yankees as Shea (now Citi Field) and the Mets at The House That Ruth Built. But that was 15 years ago. The uniqueness has worn off and morphed into frustration over continued mockery of the schedule by MLB. Maybe it's me, but all this 'natural rivalry' rhetoric does nothing more than further sacrifice the integrity of the schedule.
As for the Yankees facing the Mets so frequently, I am sure it's great for ratings and the casual fan. But is it really in the best long term interest of the game?
Robert Watkins is former investment professional and partner. A native New Yorker until 9/11, he considers Pa. his adoptive home. A passionate Yankees fan and Pennsylvania sports enthusiast, Robert is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.
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