When it comes to Major League Baseball’s Interleague Play, there are both fans and critics. On one hand, it gives baseball fans a chance to see their team play against some of the best teams the other league has to offer. On the other hand, it creates an unbalanced schedule, giving some teams a competitive advantage.
Well, get ready to pick a side, because the 2011 MLB Interleague schedule resumes this Friday, June 17, and there is plenty to look forward to. Of course, there is a lot to avoid as well.
Best Interleague Series
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Boston Red Sox – June 28-30 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA
Why it’s awesome: Both the Red Sox and Phillies were the big offseason winners this year, which instantly made both the preseason favorites among most of the MLB experts to make it to the World Series in October. This series will give fans a taste of the postseason during Interleague, which is one of the reasons Major League Baseball introduced it in 1997. The Red Sox are widely viewed as having the best lineup in baseball, while the Phillies have unquestionably the best pitching rotation, meaning something has to give and baseball fans will be the big winners.
Why it may not live up to the hype: David Ortiz will not be playing in every game. With the NL still not using the designated hitter, Red Sox DH David Ortiz will not be playing for most of the series. He has been maybe the best hitter for the Sox in 2011, and fans in Philly will be cheated out of not seeing him at the plate (unless you’re a Phillies fan, then you’re probably cool with it).
Average ticket price for the series: $99.37
Worst Interleague Series
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles – June 20-22 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA
Why it stinks: I’m going to give you a minute to try and think of one great player in this series…
[Pausing for dramatic effect]
Time’s up! It was a trick question. There are no great players in this series, just young prospects and over-the-hill veterans. Add in the fact that neither team has finished with a winning record since 1997 (in the case of the Pirates, since 1992), and this series lacks any excitement.
Why it may not be that bad: PNC Park is among the best ballparks in Major League Baseball, as fans get an awesome view of the “Steel City” from any seat in the stadium. Not to mention, it is home to one of the best food concoctions in baseball… NAY! The entire world!
Average ticket price for the series: $24.52
Best Interleague Rivalry
Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox – June 20-22 at US Cellular Field and July 1-3 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL
Why it’s awesome: If you live in the city of Chicago, you either pledge your baseball allegiance to the Cubs or to the White Sox, and when they play each other, things can get tense. While neither team is having a very good season (or in the case of the Cubs, a very good century), the two series will provide bragging rights for the winning side. With all due respect to the Yankees-Mets, this is the best inter-city rivalry in baseball.
Why it may not live up to the hype: As mentioned above, neither team is having a very good season, and if you take away the White Sox World Series title in 2005, both have had a history of losing. The action in the stands may end up being better than what happens on the field.
Average ticket price for the series: Wrigley Field – $94.52, US Cellular – $104.92
Worst Interleague Rivalry
Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres – July 1-3 at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA
Why it stinks: Major League Baseball attempted to create new rivalries when they began Interleague Play, like the Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs and A’s-Giants. Unfortunately, making the Mariners and Padres a rivalry has failed miserably. The two cities are not close (they are more than 1,200 miles apart), the two teams have not been very competitive in recent years and neither team has a huge fan base. Not a formula for a sports rivalry.
Why it may not be that bad: Tough one. I guess the only saving grace is that Ichiro, one of the best hitters of all-time, will be playing. Other than that, not much to look forward to, as neither of these teams should sniff the playoffs.
Average ticket price for the series: $37.63