When Did MLB Go to Interleague Play?
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest professional sports league in the United States, founded in 1869. Over the years, MLB has seen many changes including the introduction of interleague play in 1997. In this article, we’ll explore when MLB went to interleague play, why they did it, and how it has changed the game.
What is Interleague Play?
Interleague play is a regular season feature that allows teams from different leagues to compete against one another. The two leagues that make up MLB are the National League (NL) and the American League (AL). Prior to 1997, teams from the two leagues only met each other in the World Series, the All-Star Game, or during spring training.
History of Interleague Play
Interleague play was first proposed by then-Commissioner of Baseball Peter Ueberroth in 1985, but the idea did not gain much traction until 1993. In 1994, the owners of the teams voted to approve the concept. The first interleague games were played in 1997 and since then, interleague games have become a regular part of the MLB season.
Reasons for Interleague Play
MLB introduced interleague play for a number of reasons, including:
Interleague play has been credited with helping to increase attendance at games. Fans are excited to see teams from different leagues play each other and the novelty of the match-ups helps to draw crowds.
Produce More Interesting Games
Interleague play has also been credited with creating more interesting games. It gives teams the opportunity to face opponents they would normally not see and can create unique match-ups. This helps to keep fans engaged with the game and keeps them coming back for more.
Create More Balanced Schedules
Interleague play helps create more balanced schedules for teams. Teams in the AL and NL have different opponents due to the split in the two leagues. Interleague games give teams an opportunity to play against different opponents from both leagues and create a more balanced schedule.
Interleague play also provides an opportunity for MLB teams to generate more revenue. Teams can charge more for tickets to interleague games and sell more merchandise due to the novelty of the match-ups.
Format of Interleague Play
Interleague play is usually scheduled for the months of June and July, with each team playing a limited number of interleague games. For example, in 2019, each team played 20 interleague games. The format of the interleague games varies depending on the season and the teams involved.
Interleague series are when teams from the same division, but different leagues, play each other over the course of three or four games. For example, the New York Yankees (AL) and the New York Mets (NL) play a four-game series each season.
Interleague games are when teams from different divisions, but the same league, play each other over the course of one or two games. For example, the Boston Red Sox (AL East) and the San Francisco Giants (NL West) play a two-game series each season.
Interleague rotations are when teams from different divisions, but the same league, play each other over the course of a full rotation. For example, the AL and NL Central teams play each other in a full rotation, meaning each team will face each of the teams in the other division once per season.
Impact of Interleague Play
Interleague play has had a significant impact on the game of baseball since its introduction in 1997. Here are some of the ways in which interleague play has changed the game:
Interleague play has helped to create and strengthen rivalries between teams from different leagues. Teams from the same city, such as the Yankees and Mets, have a natural rivalry, but teams from different cities, such as the Red Sox and Giants, have also developed a rivalry due to interleague play.
Interleague play has helped to improve the competition in MLB. Teams are now able to compete against teams from different leagues and different divisions, which has helped to raise the level of competition.
More Balanced Schedules
Interleague play has also helped to create more balanced schedules for teams. Teams are now able to face opponents from both leagues and can create a more balanced schedule.
Interleague play has also helped to increase the exposure of teams from different leagues. Teams that would normally not get as much media coverage are now able to get more exposure due to interleague play.
Interleague play has been a part of MLB since 1997 and has had a significant impact on the game. It has helped to create and strengthen rivalries, improve the competition, create more balanced schedules, and increase the exposure of teams from different leagues. Interleague play has been a great addition to MLB and has helped to make the game more exciting for fans.