Baseball’s Here!

It’s April, and theoretically, it’s spring, though to look at my lawn, you wouldn’t know it. But April means spring and, even better, baseball. And on this, Easter night, and also April Fool’s night, the season opener is on right now on the TV.

Perhaps that April Fool’s thing is fitting: the opener has Texas playing Houston, in Houston’s first game in the American league, which wouldn’t be nearly the disaster it is if there were an even number of teams in each league now, but there aren’t.

No. Instead, baseball, in it’s infinite wisdom decided to even the number of teams in each league, moving the 16th team from the senior circuit into the AL to become the 15th team. And basic math tells you the result: you now have to have interleague play all year ’round.

The purist in me is absolutely disgusted.

Oh, I understand, and we purists have been repeatedly and pointedly proven wrong by baseball’s decisions since the introductions of interleague play and the wild card. Baseball is a business, and it has done nothing but attract more attention, excitement and–moreover–money since making the move. And, sadly, that’s much more important than maintaining some sad tradition that those of us who appreciate the history of the game cling to.

But that’s just the thing that rubs me wrong: baseball has turned its back on about 140 years of history. The American and National leagues are supposed to hate each other and be bitter rivals who only face each other in preseason ball, the All-Star Game, and the World Series to determine which league is better. Plus, Houston is, and always will be, a National League team. Just as the Brewers were an American League team until they moved over to the senior circuit to balance their number at 16.

But now we have aberrations like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (grrr….but that’s a whole other topic) opening their season against their perrenial…um…foe?…uh…Cincinnati?

My beloved Twins face the Mets and Marlins in April alone, then will face the Phillies, Braves, Brewers (in an oddball college-like home-and-home 4 game series at the end of May), Nationals, and Marlins again in Miami at the end of June, assuming the Marlins are still a viable organization by then. It’s an unholy mess that smacks of playing the old National League East pre-realignment when the leagues went to three divisions each.

But the arguments against me are long and many: all of this has increased the popularity of baseball because more common fans want to see more teams played in the course of a year and don’t want to have the deep, philosophical arguments that we purists would have over whether or not the Yankees of a given year could have beaten the Mets that season. It’s made more natural rivalries which the fans love: Mets-Yankees, Angels-Dodgers, Cubs-White Sox, and even Royals-Cardinals. It’s brought more money to teams, and caused many wonderful new ballparks to be built in the last few years, not the least of which is Target Field.

But it’s gonna be a very long time until I consider Houston an American League team.

Needless to say, though, I’m excited that the season’s here, and I’ll be pulling hard for my Twins as usual. Even though I’ve got to learn practically a whole new roster. But that’s baseball.

See you tomorrow.