In Defense of League Identity

Rob Neyer, in a recent defense of the difference between leagues in the DH rule, touches upon a subject close to my heart: That of American and National League identity. It’s something we have lost in the last decade. Fandom and love of one’s league is a thing of the past. I have attacked interleague play before, but just for a bit here I would like to ruminate on league identity.

League identity is a precious thing. It used to give us rooting interest in something else outside of our beloved team. Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani during the 2007 World Series declared, to the uproar of millions, that he would be putting his rooting interest into the Boston Red Sox in the Series. Giuliani is, of course, a noted New York Yankees fan. Doesn’t this sound like heresy? Rooting for the bitter rival, the team that boils your blood, that grinds your gears and whatever clichéd metaphor for hatred and loathing. It was not for the former mayor; he justified it by saying that the Red Sox were in the American League and he was a supporter of that league. What a concept, supporting something bigger than your team. This is unfortunately fading in our times.

I could suggest a few explanations for why league fandom has fallen off, but let’s be real, the culprit is interleague play. It is, in a word, horrendous. Play between leagues should be held only for All-Star games and World Series games. These are our sacred events. Not a three-game series in June. Interleague play — the phrase itself sends shivers of contempt down my spine.

I hear cries from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for bringing about a revolution. Well, I propose a revolution of an even greater importance; one for the indefinite suspension of interleague play. Take to the streets, young people of America. Put on your retro Air Jordans, turn up the volume of your Kendrick Lamar, finish up your Buzzfeed quizzes, and follow me. We shall call upon the hills and shout, “Commissioner Manfred put up the proverbial wall!”

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