October 7, 2017

The August 25 Lineup Snafu & The Failed Gimmick Of Interleague Play

A Baseball Mystery
Meg Rowley, Baseball Prospectus, October 5, 2017:
On August 25, a bit of baseball history happened; only, hardly anyone noticed. The Red Sox were losing a blowout against the Orioles. To save an arm, first baseman Mitch Moreland pitched the top of the ninth inning. Hanley Ramirez took Moreland's place at first base, replacing designated hitter Chris Young in the lineup. No more Chris Young, no more designated hitter. Normal blowout stuff so far. But in the bottom of the ninth, Young came to the plate and singled. ...

According to RetroSheet, it is the only instance of illegal lineup re-entry in MLB history. And hardly anyone there noticed! Italics. Exclamation point! Neither broadcast booth said anything; Buck Showalter didn't fuss; the umpires let Young take his swings. Perhaps even more surprising, given our delight in both weird baseball and historical novelty, the incident went largely unremarked upon in the broader baseball world. How are we to account for such a wholesale neglect of baseball history? ... (my emphasis)
Retrosheet's comments:
As is often the custom in such lopsided contests, the Red Sox put a position player on the mound in the top of the 9th. In this case, it was Mitch Moreland, who had played first base the entire game to this point. The Red Sox lost the DH for the remainder of the game and the new first baseman, Hanley Ramirez, entered the game in the 7th spot in the batting order, formerly occupied by DH Chris Young. They made no other changes. ...

The trouble occurred in the home 9th. The first batter was Rafael Devers, batting in the 6th spot. He made an out and the proper next batter was Ramirez. However, Chris Young came to the plate and singled – even though he was no longer in the game! This is the only case of illegal lineup reentry in Major League history. ... The official remedy is to call Young a pinch-hitter for Ramirez, which causes all the official totals to come out right.
Baseball Reference's box score:

It’s Time To End Interleague Play
20 Years In, Interleague Play Is A Failed Experiment.
Billy Frijoles, Athletics Nation, June 2, 2017
Interleague play was part of Bud Selig's plan to bring the fans back after the 1994 strike and cancelled world series ...

In other words, it was conceived, explicitly, as a gimmick. A way to get people talking about baseball again, a way to bring more attention to the sport. ...

[T]here have actually been a number of published studies that have reviewed the impact of interleague play, isolating its influence on attendance, all other factors equal. These studies all reach the same conclusion. By and large, fans care LESS about interleague play than regular games. ... Ironically, interleague play is only popular in markets where fans could already watch players from both leagues whenever they wanted [New York, Chicago, the Bay Area], undermining the basic justification for the damn thing in the first place. ...

Winning is the number one factor in attendance, and ... if there is an exciting pennant race or wild card chase, a game against a division or league rival is going to be more interesting than a game against a relatively irrelevant team in another league. ...

All the data shows that Interleague play is a failed gimmick. ... So why keep it?

For now, the math requires it. ... Bud Selig, in an attempt to sustain his "legacy" permanently instituted year-round interleague play by placing 15 teams in each league. [Without interleague games], teams will have off days that fall on weekends, significantly damaging attendance.

If we must maintain the interleague play for local rivalries and weekend scheduling, we can at least minimize it until MLB has a chance to expand to two 16 team leagues. ... It's time to correct one of Bud Selig's blunders and close the book on it.

Fear not. Schadenfreude is coming.


grahams said...

I feel like if we are going to have interleague play, it would make more sense to play opposite rules (i.e. AL rules in NL parks, vice versa). That way the fans of an AL team would have a chance to see NL rules. That said, i'd rather see the elimination of interleague play.

As far as the scheduling goes, I will say I do prefer that the interleague games are now sprinkled throughout the year as opposed to concentrated in the middle of the summer. I prefer not having a several week stretch where your DH is riding the pine

Mauro Bracalari said...

Perhaps interlegue games are good only for Red Soc which win almost all games.