Regional interleague makes sense for baseball 

click to enlarge Regional interleague matchups like the Bay Bridge Series could be Commissioner Bud Selig’s best baseball idea. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
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  • Regional interleague matchups like the Bay Bridge Series could be Commissioner Bud Selig’s best baseball idea.

Most of us probably agree that interleague play in the bigs has been one of Bud Selig’s good ideas.

Understand that typing that sentence made me vomit in my mouth a little bit, but as I spit it out I realized that it probably wasn’t really Uncle Bud’s idea, and I felt better. But still, interleague play was implemented on the man’s watch, so he deserves a modicum of credit.

Has interleague play run its course, though? Some folks think so, particularly those subjected to vomit-inducing interleague matchups such as the Pirates against the Mariners.

It’s likely that nobody would be opposed to dialing things back a bit, but where interleague play really does thrive is when you get certain true regional rivals together.

Yankees and Mets. Cubs and White Sox. Angels and Dodgers. And, of course, the Giants and A’s.

Granted, such rivalries are far more inflamed in the stands than on the field. No less an authority than Giants legend Will Clark confirmed as much Friday as we spoke on 95.7 FM (The Game). Such series are about bragging rights, and players — especially in this time of frequent player movement via free agency — aren’t much concerned with regional bragging rights.

Players are far more concerned about divisional bragging rights, which is why Yankees players get more fired up for the Red Sox than for the Mets, why the Cubs get more juiced for the Cardinals, the Angels more psyched for the A’s, and the Giants more jazzed for the Dodgers.

Yet any scaling back of interleague action can’t include these regional rivalries — go ahead and nix the Cardinals and Royals, Bud — because they DO mean a great deal to the fans, and the fans pay the freight.

Remember those T-shirts the A’s fans used to wear, touting that Oakland has zero splash hits but multiple world titles? An obvious dig at San Francisco’s lack of a ring, thus not as relevant — or prevalent — in the wake of 2010.
That doesn’t mean the rivalry in the stands is any less heated, however. In fact, as this weekend’s series opened, the primary point of discussion among Bay Area fans centered on which team was better, or more compelling.

Both have been exposed as highly flawed, flirting with .500 for six weeks, and the race to we-had-a-better-season-than-you started in earnest with Friday night’s opener.

It’ll continue shortly when the teams tussle in Oakland, and once again the crowds will be large and lively.

So don’t screw this up, Bud. The Bay Bridge Series might not mean much to the men in uniform, but the men, women, boys and girls in the stands care quite deeply.

Respect that, and maybe — doubtful, but maybe — you’ll get a little respect around here yourself.

SPEED ROUND: Last week it was noted that Tim Lincecum had one “quality start” this year. This week, we get off Timmy’s back and take on the notion of the quality start itself. Come on. Three runs over six innings is an average start, not quality. Give us two runs over seven and consider us impressed. ... Rolando McClain got what he deserved according to the law, and while I’m usually against NFL commish Roger Goodell and his make-’em-up-as-I-go rules of repercussion, he should inform McClain that under league law, he deserves a lifetime ban. Clowns like that — remember his mugging for the camera while handcuffed after his arrest? — can’t be tolerated in a league quickly losing all luster. If Sean Payton gets a year for the bounty thing, McClain needs to get gone forever.

Mychael Urban, a frequent co-host of The Wheelhouse (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) on 95.7 FM The Game, can be followed on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has covered Bay Area sports for more than 22 years as a contributor to Comcast SportsNet, CSNBayArea.com, KNBR, MLB.com, ESPN The Magazine and various newspapers.
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