OK, so we tossed in our digression at the start...relax, already! The post-season is here, and thank God (or his designated driver) that there is no freakin' interleague play in the playoffs 'till the World Series, right? Or would we better if they tossed all of this asymptotic aftermath into a blender and let the series cross league lines? (Integration, or miscegenation? This is just another false binary for you to sink your dentures into as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness turn into a liquid diet...as T.S. Eliot meant to say in The Waste Land: "I had not dreamed that pablum would be so pernicious.")
Personally, we'd love to see Tampa play the Cardinals, the Pirates play the Red Sox, the Dodgers play the A's, and the Braves play the Tigers in the first round. What if all AL teams advanced to the next round? Or all NL? Would we see first-growth forests get tossed on the fire to fuel the ongoing fusillade concerning the relative strength of the leagues? Not to mention the sacrilege of undoing Bud Selig's greatest "innovation" as Grand Poo-Bah and Yes Man (er, "Commissioner")--the convention-shattering, paradigm-shifting "home field advantage to the All-Star Game victor." (Never let the Devil mess with the details...the "fine print" will leap off the page and strangle you.)
Like a snake sedated in the grass a bit too long, the NL played possum until the final three weeks of the season, at which point they had a 14-4 run (due in large part to a reason we will explore a bit further below). As a result, they wound up eight games back of the AL in what was a season-long yawnfest (if, in fact, the fans woke up long enough to know that interleague play was still happening at all).
|Team names shown in blue are the ones who made it into the 2013 post-season...|
While there is almost no way to not have some such disparity, 2013 represents the largest such disparity in all of the "plague years" (and this is the dreaded seventeenth year...) of interleague play.
That makes it hard to suggest that this small slate of games has much meaning with respect to the relative strength of the leagues.
Possibly more interesting is to note how this disparity plays out for individual teams. Did the fact that the Red Sox and the Rays played only three of twenty interleague games against opposite-league teams with winning records have any impact on where they finished in the 2013 standings?
There's no way to control for strength of opposition when it comes to interleague play. That creates potential for extremity, but it's the wrong kind...baseball should not encourage that kind of randomness. Anything like that should be more systematic, and applied over all of the games, not just some of the games. It's a sloppy form of asymmetry that produces unfair results via randomness...which, come to think of it, is the perfect capsule description of BS's tenure as "Commissioner."