When interleague play began in baseball, I thought the plan was for teams to play the same division in the other league. That is - the NL East played the Al East, the NL Central played the AL Central, and the NL West played the AL West. (With allowances made for the different numbers of teams in different divsions and the fact that there were two more NL teams than AL teams.)
Then, one or two years ago, the plan seemed to change, as my Phillies played the AL Central teams. Around that time, MLB set up interleague “rivalries” that would play home and home series each year in addition to the rotating divisional matchups. Some “rivalries” were obvious: Yankees/Mets, Cubs/White Sox. Others were more subtle: Red Sox/Braves, Phillies/Orioles. Others were inexplicable: Padres/Mariners.
This year, the division matchups changed again, which I expected. The Phillies and the rest of the NL East seem to playing the AL West (which I’m pleased about because I’m going to see the Mariners play tomorrow night). But why are the Phillies are only playing 3 of the 4 AL West teams (no Texas)? And what happened to our “rivalry” against the Orioles? This year, the Phils play one series against the Orioles and one against the Red Sox.
So, does anyone know the schedule is put together for interleague play? Is there any reason to it or do the rules just keep changing?
The rules keep changing.
There’s no real set system. The plan, however, was ALWAYS to have teams change the division they play every year; this West-this-year-Central-next-year-East-the-year-after-that stuff was always in the cards.
But as you have observed, they still have to keep the Natural Rivalry thing going so that the Blue Jays and Expos can grind through another series every year (Evidently Toronto has a natural rivalry with San Juan, P.R. Who knew?) So in some cases a team drops the series it otherwise would play against a team from the division-of-the-year. Frankly, I think it’s silly.
Bear in mind that the schedule is drawn up by hand. There’s no computer doing this.
I’m going to stick my neck out, but I’m guessing that the Padres/Mariners rivalry can be explained by the fact that the two teams share a spring training site at Peoria. They already play, as I recall, an exhibition game or two during the spring.
Why this is enough to qualify them as “rivals” is beyond me, but that seems like a reasonable explanation.
Originally they said they would swap divisions each year- East-East the first year, East-West another, etc. Then they quickly figured out that going away from East-East would kill the Yankee-Met series, which is the whole reason for being for interleague play. So they stuck with East-East for a while. Now you get your natural rival home and home plus four teams from a different division.
If elected commissioner, I will ban interleague play. However, if the masses demand it, each team would play ONE series each year against their natural rival plus ONE series each year against a random team from the other league. This would leave more room for intraleage play,like it should be. I think it’s nuts that the Yankees only visit Detroit once each year now, for instance.