2007 versus 2006
Attendance – 2007: 8,795,939 vs. 2006: 8,592,482
Att. Average – 2007: 34,905 vs. 2006: 34,097
AL win % – 2007: .544 vs. 2006: .611
NL win % – 2007: .456 vs. 2006: .389
AL batting – 2007: .268 vs. 2006: .283
NL batting – 2007: 281 vs. 2006: .261
Well, we’re down to one final Interleague Game, next month’s 78th Annual All-Star extravaganza. That one will also count, to spin off the slogan.
So did the last three weeks’ worth of strange meetings in odd places, which featured American League pitchers trying to figure out which end of the bat to hold and people whacking the whole concept as if it was a beach ball floating over the bleachers.
Interleague proved popular with fans, with 8,795,939 witnessing 252 Interleague games this year, eclipsing the previous mark set last season of 8,592,482.
But Cleveland manager Eric Wedge batted cleanup for these whackers with a blunt response when again asked whether he liked these Interleague interludes:
“No. That’s about as best as I can say it. No. Everybody has tried to be politically correct for how many years now? But no, I don’t like it.”
Surprise: The Indians entered Interleague Play with a 2 1/2-game lead in the American League Central and came out of it with a two-game deficit. So there was a lot for Wedge to not like.
Sure, Interleague Play comes with an accidental bias. Teams competing for the same prize wind up playing diverse schedules, and titles are decided by uncommon opponents.
Maybe this has gone on long enough for people to learn to deal with it. For starters, flash back to the first year of Interleague Play, 1997 when Florida went 12-3 and the Mets 7-8 against AL clubs, a five-game differential. The Marlins wound up with a four-game edge for the Wild Card postseason berth they converted into their first World Series championship.
Two, you’re always playing schedule roulette, anyway.
Arizona skipper Bob Melvin: “A lot of times you’ll catch a good team playing bad or a bad team playing good. So when all is said and done, it works out.”
Three, fans can’t get enough at this buffet table. So we don’t even need one and two. As Commissioner Bud Selig noted last year at the outset of Interleague Play, “In any business, you’re supposed to give the customers what they want. Who are we to deny the customers what they’re showing us they want?”
Headlining the report card, the NL at least showed up this time. The AL’s 137-115 edge represented a 16 1/2-game improvement over last season’s 154-98 burial.
Team fortunes ranged from the Angels and Tigers (14-4 each) to the White Sox (4-14). Nine of the 14 AL clubs had winning Interleague records, compared to only six of 16 NL teams.
Making hay: But forget the won-loss records — everything’s relative. Last year, the Tigers went 15-3 — and the Twins went 16-2 to cop the AL Central by that one game. So when contemplating the impact of Interleague Play, we’re concerned about how it changes the standings.
Five teams that made the biggest move:
• Tigers, 4 1/2 games (2 1/2 down to two up).
• Angels, 2 1/2 games (5 1/2 to eight up).
• Brewers, 2 games (5 1/2 up to 7 1/2 up).
• Phillies, 2 games (five down to three down).
• Nationals, 2 games (12 down to 10 down).
• D-backs, 2 games (one down to one up).
• Rockies, 2 games (7 1/2 down to 5 1/2 down).
Five teams that lost the most ground:
• Orioles, 6 games (10 1/2 down to 16 1/2 down).
• White Sox, 5 1/2 games (nine down to 14 1/2 down).
• Pirates, 5 games (seven down to 12 down).
• Indians, 4 1/2 games (2 1/2 up to two down).
• Reds, 4 games (10 1/2 down 14 1/2 down).
Time to rake: Some people the other league is just happy to see go.
Ichiro Suzuki batted .486 (35-for-72) in Interleague games.
Magglio Ordonez really let his hair down, batting .462 and driving in 15 runs — despite only one home run, on his second Interleague at-bat.
Alex Rodriguez was scalding even before he got to AT&T Park (9-for-13), batting .400 with eight homers and driving in 23 runs in the 18 games.
A-Rod’s partner, Derek Jeter, batted .386 and scored 13 runs.
Justin Verlander and Dan Haren both have nearly as many wins over the NL (four) as over their own league (five) — and Verlander is plus-one in no-hitters.
You’re right: It couldn’t have been that one-sided; some National Leaguers had to get in on the fun.
Ryan Howard drove in 13 runs in his 12 Interleague appearances, and Alfonso Soriano came alive to hit .480 the last week alone, with four homers in six games.
A matter of perspective: Others known to have liked Interleague Play include Sammy Sosa (600th homer against the Cubs), Ken Griffey Jr. (home runs Nos. 583 and 584, passing Mark McGwire for No. 7 all-time, against the Mariners), Jeff Weaver (was brilliant in blanking Reds, but still without a regular-season win over an AL team since May 30, 2006) and C.C. Sabathia.
Our town: There was nothing civil about the neighborhood wars, in which city ownership was clear-cut, for the most part.
• Los Angeles: Belongs to the Angels, who took five of six from the Dodgers.
• Chicago: The Cubs’ kind of town, to the tune of 5-1 over the White Sox.
• Bay Area: Out-numbered in Barrys 2-0 by the Giants, the A’s did a 5-1 number on them.
• New York: At least Gotham played it honest; the Mets and Yankees split six, each winning the home set.
Sweet revenge: OK, it wasn’t exactly instant. But on a nostalgic Interleague schedule that featured numerous World Series rematches, teams that had been waiting for a long time to even the score did so with remarkable regularity.
It’s a long list … take a deep breath.
• 2006 WS: Cards swamp Tigers … 2007 Interleague: Tigers sweep Cards.
• 2005 WS: White Sox sweep Astros … 2007 Interleague: Astros take two of three.
• 2001 WS: Diamondbacks stun Yankees … 2007 Interleague: Yankees sweep D-backs.
• 1997 WS: Marlins frustrate Indians … 2007 Interleague: Indians hook Marlins in two of three.
• 1993 WS: Blue Jays “Carter” Phillies … 2007 Interleague: Phillies take two of three.
• 1990 WS: Reds shock A’s in four … 2007 Interleague: A’s take two of three.
• 1973 WS: A’s edge Mets … 2007 Interleague: Mets bury A’s.
• 1962 WS: Yankees take Giants in seven … 2007 Interleague: Giants take Yankees in three.