INTERLEAGUE INTRIGUE BUCKS TREND.Byline: TOM HOFFARTH Media
Even back in 1998, when Major League Baseball "MLB" and "Major Leagues" redirect here. For other uses, see MLB (disambiguation) and Major Leagues (disambiguation).
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in North American professional baseball. first began force-feeding interleague play Interleague play is the term used to describe regular season Major League Baseball games played between teams in different leagues, introduced in 1997. Before the 1997 season, teams in the American League and National League did not meet during the regular season. to the masses as a Selig-esque way to improve attendance and inject TV ratings, Joe Buck For the fictional character, see .
Joseph Francis Buck (born April 25, 1969) is a American sportscaster, and the son of the late Hall of Fame sportscaster Jack Buck. He has won numerous Sports Emmy Awards for his play-by-play work with Fox Sports television. was on board.
After years of some awkward matchups and repetitive intercity dances, a three-game series like the one between the Dodgers and New York Yankees Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. this weekend makes Buck feel a bit vindicated about his original decision.
``I've got friends I didn't even know I had in L.A. asking me for tickets, and I can't even tell them, `Which pavilion,' '' Fox's lead baseball play-by-play man said Thursday. ``People want to see this stuff.''
On Saturday, Fox has no choice to but to take the Dodgers-Yankees as the main telecast for its noon window. And by sending it to 85 percent of the country, that's the largest slice of national audience to see one regional game since the network has been doing the sport.
On Sunday, ESPN ESPN Entertainment and Sports Programming Network didn't have to think twice about snapping up the Dodgers-Yankees for its 5 p.m. slot, just as it did a week ago when the Dodgers were in Fenway Park
• • [ , despite the fact many in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. were distracted by the Lakers-Pistons opener of the NBA Finals The NBA Finals is the championship series of the National Basketball Association.
The team winning the Eastern Conference Finals earns one of the two berths in the championship round, with the other going to the team that wins the Western Conference Finals. and could have had a Game 7 to contend with this weekend.
What swayed someone like Buck to support the concept from the start was the fact that as a local broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals For the National Football League team that played in St. Louis from 1960 to 1987, see .
The St. Louis Cardinals (also referred to as "the Cards" or "the Redbirds") are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. , these interleague interludes broke up the monotony. He never believed it would take away from the eventual World Series matchup or that pairings like Detroit-San Diego of a few years ago, which pit the league's two worst teams against each other, was enough to embarrass the decision-makers.
Yet why, after all this time, did it take a gem like the Dodgers-Yankees to finally materialize?
``It probably came a year or two late, but that's because they were trying to keep the interleague as a regional thing,'' said Buck. ``Maybe that was good with L.A. or Chicago or New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , but I'm telling you, no one in St. Louis cares about Kansas City and vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. . Just because there's closeness doesn't make a natural rivalry.
``They have finally figured out how to balance it out and make a little more consistent in each division. You're never going to make everyone happy. But a matchup like this makes everything look better. You can't tell me that a story in USA Today about the Dodgers and Yankees history can be bad for baseball.''
Kevin Kennedy never got to manage an interleague game. His two-year tenure as manager of the Boston Red Sox The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox are a member and currently champions of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball’s American League. From to the present, the Red Sox have played in Fenway Park. ended in 1996, and he gravitated to the media side with Fox and Fox Sports Net.
Originally, he wasn't real pro-interleague when the concept came up, in part because some of the games were played too late in August. But he says he can't argue with the results in recent years.
``I was like most purists, being a National League guy, growing up in L.A., it seemed like it was sacred to build up to the World Series,'' said Kennedy, part of Fox's pregame show and scheduled to do a feature on closers Eric Gagne of the Dodgers and Mariano Rivera of the Yankees before Saturday's game telecast.
``They finally tweaked it, and the fans have proven to support it with attendance up about 20 percent during interleague. I know the people in Tampa Bay loved seeing Barry Bonds (and San Francisco), just like the Yankees fans did last year. It's working, and that's what baseball was trying to do.''
Kennedy, who gets feedback from fans while doing his weekend radio show for Fox and now has a Monday ``Totally Baseball'' show on Fox Sports Net, agrees that not all players or managers are fully supportive of the concept because it creates an unbalanced schedule for some teams within their divisions.
``I would probably agree with that if I were still a manager,'' said Kennedy, ``but there will always be come inequalities.''
One of the potential inequalities created by this weekend's series - that it keeps Vin Scully out of the TV booth for all three games - was partially remedied.
The team got Scully to agree that, after doing tonight's game on KCOP-Channel 13, he'll broadcast the first three and last three innings for radio (KFWB-980) on Saturday and Sunday. Ross Porter will do the middle three innings Saturday, and Rick Monday will do the same Sunday.
Scully did the Dodgers-Red Sox game last Friday but wasn't needed for Saturday or Sunday because of the national broadcasts.
By Tom Hoffarth