The American League (AL) and National Leagues (NL) mingled on Tuesday for the last time before the World Series. For the rest of this month, all of next month and September, and most of October, AL teams will play AL teams, and NL teams will play NL teams.
However, change could be coming, perhaps as early as next season. If the leagues are realigned with 15 teams in each, interleague games would be played all season. Michael Weiner, the executive director of the union, said on Tuesday that players strongly favored 15 teams in each league. The current collective bargaining agreement expires after this season.
“It’s arithmetic,” Weiner said at a luncheon with writers before the NL’s 5-1 victory in the All-Star game. “Players take the competition very, very seriously and if you talk with players and many people on the management side as well, they want the competition to be fair.”
Since the last expansion, in 1998, the NL has had 16 teams and the AL has had 14, with six teams in the NL Central and four in the AL West. The Milwaukee Brewers switched to the NL to make it happen, but Weiner said the union never really liked it.
“In a sense it would be akin to having the US Open tennis tournament with a different number of entrants on one side of the draw as opposed to the other,” he said. “Nobody would stand for that. The best reason for 15-15 is everybody would have four competitors to win their division and everybody would have the same number of competitors to qualify for wild-card positions.”
Commissioner Bud Selig and Weiner both said that so-called radical realignment — the elimination of divisional identities and/or several teams switching leagues — was not under consideration. Selig was more cautious than Weiner about a 15-15 split, but said he supported realignment generally and had kept an open mind.
“The teams in the NL Central fairly say, ‘Why should we have six teams in one division and other teams have no more than four or five?’” Selig said, at a separate luncheon. “And that’s a fair comment. So there are things I’d like to accomplish. I think if you’re really thinking about significant realignment, it’s probably going to have to wait. But I’ll pick up the phone and call some people who are really knowledgeable with schedules.”
Several All-Stars said they had no preference or had not thought much about the issues. Heath Bell of the Padres said he hoped all teams in a division would play the same interleague schedule; Matt Cain of the Giants said he hoped an extra team in the AL West could make travel easier for players in that division.
“We just go out and compete,” the Reds’ Brandon Phillips said. “We don’t really think about the schedules. But if you think about it, it would make more sense to have 15 and 15. It really would. But who’s going to be the team that leaves? That’s going to be the problem.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks have offered to move to the AL if asked. The Houston Astros, who are undergoing an ownership change, would be a logical choice to move to the AL West, where they would join their in-state rival, the Texas Rangers.
Hunter Pence, the Astros’ All-Star representative, said he liked the NL, but would not object to moving. He did not feel the Astros were at a disadvantage by playing in a six-team division.
“The scheduling would seem kind of funny, to have interleague every day, but then again I really enjoy interleague,” Pence said. “Sometimes change is good.”
One change Selig, Weiner and the players strongly support is the addition of another wild-card team to each league. Selig said the format was still under debate, but Pence would favor a one-game playoff between two wild-card teams. Some in baseball strongly favor this option as a way to jump-start the postseason and emphasize winning the division.
“If it does come down to one game, how exciting is that one game?” Pence said. “Remember the Tigers and Twins in ’09? I couldn’t leave the TV. That one game was so amazing. Imagine if we had that every year? That is awesome.”
Weiner acknowledged the problems of playing interleague games every day, including on opening day and the final series of the season. However, he said the benefits of more even competition would outweigh the negatives.
“Like a lot of things in life, maybe 15-15 ain’t perfect,” Weiner said. “But the fact that we’re focusing on those undeniable positives, I view as a real plus.”
Weiner and Selig addressed several other topics at their luncheons, with Selig confirming that he had cleared David Einhorn as the Mets’ minority partner, pending the final details of the agreement with the Wilpons. Selig also said the Mets’ “chances look pretty good” to host the All-Star game in 2013.
As for Derek Jeter, who skipped this year’s All-Star game to rest his right calf for the second half, Selig said: “There isn’t a player that I’m more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter. He has played the game like it should be played. He’s even been a better human being off the field, as great as he is on the field. So any concerns that I keep hearing about Derek Jeter, I know why Derek Jeter isn’t here. I respect that.”
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
WEEKEND MATCHES: While Tatung FC made good on their chances early on, Taiwan Steel rallied to win the game 2-3 and move to the top with Taichung Futuro Sunday’s action saw Taichung Futuro, Taipower FC and Taiwan Steel tied for first place on 30 points in the Taiwan Football Premier League, while Hang Yuan FC picked up a point to take the No. 4 spot on 25 points after holding Taipower to a scoreless draw. In Taoyuan, Tatung FC hosted Taiwan Steel. It was an exciting matchup, as the visitors rallied from 2-0 down to take the game with three goals. Tatung made good on their chances early on. Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta opened the account 15 minutes into the game with a low shot from the right. Three minutes
Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a scathing attack on the next generation of snooker players after he made the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship on Sunday, ending Chinese star Ding Junhui’s world championship dream. The mercurial 44-year-old Englishman won an enthralling high-quality second-round encounter 13-10 to set up a quarter-final clash with three-time champion Mark Williams. When asked by the BBC whether he thought he would remain at the top of the game for this long, the Briton, who turned professional in 1992, said the poor quality of younger players had secured his position and that something drastic would have to happen
Max Verstappen informed his Red Bull team that he would not be driving “like a grandma” in Formula One’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday — and he was as good as his word. The Dutch 22-year-old seized his opportunity at Silverstone, ending dominant Mercedes’ run of four successive wins this season and moving up to second place overall, 30 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton. Verstappen’s confidence shone through early on, after slotting into third place behind the two Mercedes, when he was told by race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase to take care of his tires. “Mate, this is the only chance of being