The Appeal To Charm: Mike Schmidt’s Case Against Interleague Play

Philadelphia: Citizens Bank Park - Mike Schmid...
Image by wallyg via Flickr

Thank you, Mike Schmidt, for taking the public stance that interleague play has run its course.  I agree. And I LOVE your appeal to charm: once upon a time, the All-Star Game and the World Series really were the only showcase for the kinds of match-ups dreams are made of.  All of the reasons you cite for ending interleague play are right on, but your public allegiance to the idea of “charming uncertainty” as one of those unique, endearing baseball intangibles is, as it were, pitch-perfect:

“Isn’t something missing from the All-Star game and World Series? Think back to when they were played in an environment of charming uncertainty because the teams and players were from different leagues. What they knew of each other came from spring training games, television and scouting.

The buzz was always which league was better, how would a particular pitcher fare against the other league. One league was known for superior speed and power, the other for pitching, finesse and defense. The World Series was like those first Super Bowls, with little firsthand information. Hitters and pitchers had to feel each other out. None of that today.”

Now, to everyone else: Michael Jack Schmidt is absolutely right about this.  While he talks mostly about the unfair, unbalanced issues that come up because of travel, scheduling, and the DH, you can tell the heart of this issue for him is precisely historic and much more about feeling.  He wants baseball’s special moments to be as special as they were to him, both as a fan and as a player.  “Charm” and “charming uncertainty” are brilliant ways to name that special something, that anticipation of the novel and the new occurring only twice a year in sport so grounded in tradition.  It’s the top-of-the-roller-coaster-for-the-first-time feeling.  It’s a first kiss kind of thing.  The All-Star Game is holding sweaty hands.  The World Series is the agonizing bliss between when you start that forever-arc between were you are at present and where you’ll be when she/he kisses back or doesn’t.

Life is a game of diminishing firsts.  The institutions we bless with our time and fandom, then, ought to be dances of renewal, full of things we haven’t seen before and may never see again.  In the best sense of the term old school, the Old School understood this.  Mike Schmidt knows what’s up.

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