No disrespect to all you hockey folk whose favourite summer sport is watching Darcy Tucker sign on the dotted line, but have you checked the agate pages today? The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are leading the American League East by three-and-a-half games after sweeping the Boston Red Sox for the second time this season. The best team in baseball (52-32) is no fluke. Their starting rotation is stellar, their defence is spectacular, and everyone in the line-up seems to slap a base hit when it matters most. Imagine the October possibility: an AL East champion that doesn’t live in Beantown or the Bronx. Kevin Costner, the Rays’ biggest fan, hasn’t been this excited since his dead dad dropped by for a game of catch.
If nothing else, Tampa’s trouncing of the BoSox is yet another reminder of why interleague play needs to be scrapped. Or at least toned down. For the previous three weeks, baseball fans were subjected to the annual summer installment of American League versus National League—a collection of over-hyped, make-believe rivalries that feel more like Spring Training than Pennant Racing. San Francisco vs. Cleveland! Dodgers vs. White Sox! Toronto vs. Cincinnati!!!!!!! (Granted, the whole Adam Dunn saga did make that series a bit more palatable.)
But the Tampa/Boston match-up offered what no interleague game ever can: a mid-season showdown between division leaders that actually affects the standings. Yes, there’s something nostalgic about the White Sox and Cubs squaring off in Wrigley Field. Or the Mets and Yankees playing a day/night doubleheader in both New York stadiums. But do we really need 254 interleague games ever year? Fifty would be just fine. Even 30. Heck, I’d take seven. It’s called the World Series.