– Enough is enough.

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In Major League Baseball (MLB), for many years there was just one division within each league, American and National, and winning the pennant flag was a very big deal. Fans were glued to the newspaper or radio to follow the progress of the teams. It was kind of like watching a horse race as each contestant jockeyed for position. However, as the league expanded to the western states, the MLB found they could break each league into multiple divisions and devise a playoff system. At first, each league was broken into two divisions, East and West, but then split into three as we know it today, East-Central-West. As an aside, I always thought it was funny that the Cincinnati Reds were originally placed in the West of the old two-division system, while the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs remained in the East, even though they were much further west than Cincinnati (I never could figure that one out).

MLB was not unique in terms of splitting divisions. All of the major professional sports have done likewise, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Let’s face it, divisional playoffs makes a lot of money for the leagues and extends the season, but also know this, Division Crowns pale in comparison to a League pennant or championship.

The latest wrinkle in the MLB is inter-league play, whereby a National League team plays an American League team. Actually it began back in 1997 and frankly, I never got used to it. I realize the NFL has been doing inter-league play for a long time, but I think it waters down the competition. Prior to 1997, the only time MLB teams played others outside of their league was either during Spring Training, the All-Star Game, and, of course, the World Series. Today, inter-league play is quite common and, to my way of thinking, it distracts from the divisional races. Yes, I understand the wins and losses still count, but such games are essentially meaningless and seem more like trivial exhibition games as opposed to highly contested matches between league opponents. Even the players look like they are playing half-hearted in such games.

The only thing controversial in inter-league play is use of the Designated Hitter (DH) as used in the American League, and not the National League. NL purists abhor the DH, while AL fans do not understand why the NL doesn’t adopt it as it livens up the offense as opposed to working around a pitcher who cannot hit.

Let’s talk about rivalries, back when the Reds were in the NL West, they fought tooth and nail against their division rivals, particularly the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros. The competition became so fierce between these teams, attendance soared as the fans understood the impact of a win and a loss. This resulted in fierce rivalries and skyrocketing attendance. It also increased Radio-TV ratings, not to mention more money from advertising. The same was true elsewhere, such as between the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox, the New York Mets-Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals, etc.

Today, MLB wants us to watch a meaningless game between the Tampa Bay Rays (AL) versus the Miami Marlins (NL), or the Cleveland Indians (AL) vs. Cincinnati Reds (NL), or the Yankees against the Mets, etc. The intent is to develop interstate rivalries, but all I can say is, “SNORE!” As someone from Tampa Bay, an AL team, I really do not have much of an interest in what goes on in Miami.

If inter-league play is being done just for amusement, then let’s stop kidding ourselves and not add it to the Win-Loss column as it means absolutely nothing.

Let us not forget, competition is what makes sports interesting. The MLB should be more concerned with creating rivalries and less on creating meaningless freak shows like inter-league play.


Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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