Does anyone like Interleague play anymore? I was against it from the beginning but I understood that there was a novelty factor that people enjoyed. And while it’s fun to see the Mets and Yankees square off during the regular season, it’s not fun that the Mets end up playing a tougher schedule than any other club in baseball during Interleague play.
The Mets play 18 Interleague games this year. There’s the six against the Yankees and this season the Mets play three teams from the AL West. The one team they don’t play is Seattle and instead they get the Tigers, who are the top team in the AL Central.
The Mets just finished a series against the Rangers, last year’s AL representative in the World Series. That’s a common theme for the Mets, who have played the previous year’s World Series team 11 times in 15 years of Interleague play.
So far this year, the Mets are
5-7 6-6 in Interleague games, with six games left against the Tigers (42-36) and Yankees (45-31). Meanwhile, the Braves are 5-4 against the American League and have six games left against the Mariners (39-39) and Orioles (35-40). The Diamondbacks are 8-4 against the junior circuit and have six games against the Indians (40-36) and A’s (35-44).
The Braves and Diamondbacks are the top two teams for the NL Wild Card, with Atlanta holding a one-game lead. The Mets are currently 4.5 games back. Let’s look at these three teams and their Wild Card opponents this year:
Braves – Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles
Dbacks – Twins, White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Indians, Athletics
Mets – Yankees, Angels, A’s, Rangers, Tigers, Yankees
Based on 2010 records, here’s the combined winning percentage of the AL teams that these three teams faced:
Braves – 382-428 (.472)
Dbacks – 480-492 (.494)
Mets – 522-450 (.537)
That’s not necessarily the best way of looking at this. Now, let’s look at the records of our 3 NL teams compared to the record of their AL foes in games thru 6/26:
Braves – 193-196 (.496)
Dbacks – 220-246 (.472)
Mets – 247-220 (.529)
Perhaps the best way to do it would be to compare the records of the teams right before they squared off in Interleague play. But with the season still in action, that’s not possible.
Another factor to consider is that when you play a team is nearly as important as which teams you play. The Diamondbacks are ready to go up against the Indians, who have a solid 40-36 record. However, the Indians started off 30-15 and have gone 10-21 since. So on the surface it looks like Arizona has a tough matchup but the Indians in late June are not the same club they were in late April.
Until we go back to a balanced schedule, certain teams will always be at a disadvantage when it comes to the Wild Card. But that disadvantage gets magnified with Interleague play, a novelty whose time passed at least a decade ago.
The Mets face an uphill battle to win the Wild Card with all of the players who have missed time due to injury. It only gets worse when they have to play division leaders while their opponents in the Wild Card race square off against cellar dwellers in Interleague play.
Mets fans should be happy to trade six games against the Yankees for improved odds at making the playoffs. Let’s hope that when the next CBA is forged that it does away with Interleague play.