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Enjoy the splendor

AP file photoSure, Pedro Martinez facing the Yankees in the Bronx tonight is an argument for interleague play. But Royals at Rockies? Detroit at Arizona? Interleague play has got to go.
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Tonight we will witness one of the greatest spectacles in sport.The Colorado Rockies will host the Kansas City Royals at Coors Field in interleague play in a meeting of the two worst teams in baseball. Yes, let’s get ready to bumble.If this isn’t an argument for the abolition of interleague play, I don’t know what is. But for the heck of it, there are plenty of other reasons to toss interleague play into the dustbin of history.First, interleague play is only a big deal in New York and Chicago and the cities where the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Giants (with Barry Bonds) visit.

Sure, the intensity is going to be amped at the Stadium when the Mets (with Pedro Martinez on the mound) call on the Yankees tonight. And, pity Joe Torre if the boys from Queens manage a sweep. Yes, it’s North Side vs. South Side in Chicago and never the twain shall meet.But what about California? There is no hostility between San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s fans. Speaking as a righteous and God-fearing Giants follower, we don’t care about the A’s. We make it a practice to look down on all things Oakland. If this were Niners-Raiders, that would be a different story.In La-La land, it’s the same story with the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County Located North of San Diego. Aside from the Dodgers being the only team in the majors not to acknowledge the Angels’ name change, Dodger fans look down on their American League counterparts and Angels fans just eat sushi.You could argue the interstate rivalry factor, but you’d be wrong there. Kansas City at St. Louis? Aside from a few Cardinals fans still bitter about that Don Denkinger call, that’s no biggie. I’m sure they’re going to be packing them in at Tampa for the Devil Rays and Marlins.Texas is at Houston and Cincy is in Cleveland. These, ladies and gentlemen, are what we call football rivalries. Don’t forget Toronto at Washington tonight. The Washington Nationals, of course, used to be the Montreal Expos, so that used to be an all-Canadian interleague “rivalry.” Sorry, but when the Leafs and Habs play hockey, you have a rivalry between those two cities. Baseball? Who cares, you hoser.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, Baltimore is at Atlanta. That’s a good series, but only by happenstance because the Orioles are one of the surprise teams of the season. We’ve got Boston at Philly. Yes, Citizens Bank Ballpark will be packed because, as mentioned before, the Red Sox, like the Yanks, Cubs and the Giants avec Bonds draw everywhere.It is magic when the Red Sox come to Coors Field, as they did last year, or when the Cubs go to Yankee Stadium. The problem is that, by rotation, it doesn’t happen often.Thus, you are stuck with such scintillating matchups this weekend like Seattle at San Diego, Minnesota at Milwaukee (Isn’t this an American League game?), Detroit at Arizona and, yes, Kansas City at Colorado.These get-togethers bring up another point. Interleague play creates an inequality in scheduling. Look at the N.L. West. First-place San Diego has a cream-puff series with the Mariners. Second-place Arizona has the mediocre Tigers. Meanwhile, the Dodgers, in third, have to play six games this year against the Angels, one of the best teams in the American League. Though I shed no tears about anything bad which happens to the Dodgers, the boys in blue have a legitimate gripe that they are playing a tougher schedule than their divisional opponents.



Interleague play also messes with competition for the wild card. A Dodger-like situation is happening in the N.L. East, the likely source of this year’s wild card from the senior circuit. All five teams, separated by 7 1/2 games before Thursday’s action, got to feast on the A.L. West. But the Braves, Phillies and Mets got the shaft with the rest of their interleague games. Philly and Atlanta also drew the A.L. East 1-2 punch of Baltimore and Boston. The Mets got their traditional six with the Yankees.Meanwhile, Washington has Toronto six times and Florida has six dates with the woeful Rays. Advantage Nationals and Marlins.We’re past the era when there was only one game on TV each week and you could rarely see teams out of your market. Through ESPN, Fox, TBS and WGN, fans can see just about any team in the majors. If that’s not enough, there’s always the MLB Extra Innings package on the dish.With the few aforementioned exceptions, interleague play leads to boring matchups and harms the integrity of the game. It should go the way of cookie-cutter, multi-purpose stadiums and artificial turf.

In the meantime, enjoy the Royals and the Rockies – and pray for rain.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or cfreud@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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