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September Interleague games are just a bad idea

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  September 24, 2013 11:02 AM

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Simple question: Why the hell are the Red Sox in Colorado?

Tampa Bay is facing the Yankees. The White Sox are in Cleveland. The Giants are hosting the Dodgers.

The Sox are in Colorado to face the Rockies. Perfect.

Five games remain in this magical 2013 Red Sox season, and for whatever reason, Boston is out west finishing up its Interleague schedule at a junction when games within your own division are tantamount. Of course, itís no real matter for the Sox, who clinched the American League East title, but they are only one game in front of Oakland for the best record in the AL, a berth that will afford the Sox to face the likes of Tampa Bay or Cleveland in the ALDS, and avoid Detroit as long as possible.

This is supposed to be the time of year that you beat up on your rivals, trying to either make the dance or spoil the party. Yet, the Red Sox are the only AL team playing in a NL ballpark this week. Why?

In fact, 10 of Tuesdayís 15 games on the Major League Baseball schedule are between teams playing within their own division. Baseball got that part of the equation right, at least. We couldnít have cleaned up this little two-game set somewhat earlier than the final week of the season?

Boston is 13-5 this season against the NL, so itís not like this business trip is a hindrance, and this isnít your average rant against the Sins of Interleague. But doesnít it just seem weird to be in Colorado, especially after the Sox have spent the bulk of the month playing the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Orioles?

The AL Central has yet to be clinched, and to do so, the Tigers Ė 4 Ĺ up on Cleveland - might have to do so this weekend in Miami, an NL park, possibly without having the services of designated hitter Victor Martinez? Stupid.

If baseball wants to insist on sprinkling Interleague throughout the entire year, fine. Itís somewhat disingenuous to act sanctimonious about cats and dogs living together at this point. Like it or not, the aspect of the game is here to stay, a fact that should be greeted with a shrug at this point. But the fact that AL teams get penalized Ė at this critical junction in the season Ė in an NL park is insane.

The Red Sox merely need to take care of their own business against the terrible Rockies, and maintain the best record in the league. But if this series had implications, youíre damned straight that they should have a problem with it. Imagine if the division were still on the line, and the Sox chose to sit David Ortiz so John Lackey could get his hacks at the dish. Ortiz would likely be at first base anyway, but that denies the Sox Mike Napoli, who has only hit 42 home runs this month (OK, itís six, but stillÖ)

If weíre going to play this game, designated hitters for all. Itís been 40 years at this point. Can we agree the position is probably going to stick around a bit longer, even if some old cranks feel that such a menial job isnít worthy of MVP Awards or the Hall of Fame? If MLB wants meaningful Interleague games at the end of the season, itís either the DH or AL teams get to host the entire month of September. Thereís simply too much else at stake to Mickey Mouse around with it.

And so, the Sox are in Colorado before heading to Camden Yards to face the Orioles in the final weekend of the regular season. Nobody wants this.

But, you know. Whatever.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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