It’s been a very press-releasy day at MLB. Just got another one touting interlague play:
Major League Baseball drew 8,468,620 fans during Interleague games this season for an average of 33,606 per game. The 2011 Interleague average is 18.2 percent higher than this season’s current intraleague average of 28,421 per game. Since its inception in 1997, Interleague Play has drawn 12.0 percent more fans than intraleague games; Interleague Play has averaged 33,285 fans per game, compared to the intraleague average of 29,716 fans per game during the same span.
There are clearly some appealing interleague matchups that drive that attendance difference. Yankees-Cubs and a host of cross-town and rivalry series are legitimate draws, and the overall marketability of much of the interleague schedule is undeniable.
At the same time, these differences are partly the product of apples-oranges comparisons, as those intraleague numbers are weighted more toward the earlier, cold, rainy part of the season and don’t have the benefit of holiday weekends like interpleague play got. One figures that, if the timing of the interleague and intraleague slates were tweaked a bit, the differences would not be as stark.
Mostly, one just wonders if it’s possible to keep the great interleague matchups while dispensing with the less-appealing ones — Seattle vs. San Diego, anyone? — in favor of more matchups that have a more direct impact on division races. I kind of doubt it, but I’d like to spend more time thinking critically about interleague play and scheduling issues and less time going all rah-rah with it.