by Robert Ferringo - 05/19/2006
Boxers or briefs? Blondes or brunettes? Elvis or The Beatles?
There are plenty of these little tests that can be given to a man that will give a sense of his soul. With baseball, there's really just one fundamental question to which the answer gives us a peek into your psyche: American League or National League?
If you're an American League Guy, you are likely a meat-and-potatoes kind of man. You are impressed by explosions, destruction, and the humiliation of others who are weaker than you. Your virtues include dependability and straightforwardness. You're probably not the type of guy who's going to skip out on a $120 bar tab laced with shooters and brews. You'll suck it up, pay, and then puke out the side door as you leave.
If you're a National League Guy, you are likely a more cerebral sort of man. You have a keen appreciation for the subtle nuances of sport, fate, architecture and the hydrogen bomb. You are in a constant state of thought and calculation regarding your surroundings, and are sometimes prone to anxiety attacks both in large crowds or when alone. Also, you're probably a womanizer and a great wing man on a Saturday night.
Interleague play - the Major League's answer to cross-dressing - begins its 10th tour with this weekend's slate of games. We'll get to enjoy the Cross-town Classic, the Battle of the Beltway, the Lone Star Shootout and the Show-Me Series, as the "natural rivals" take their shot at one another for intra-city or intra-state bragging rights.
The National League leads the all-time series 1,104-1,096, and has won the season series five times. The best interleague team to date is by far Oakland at 95-63 (.601). The National League's best cross-over team is Florida at 87-63 (.580).
On the one hand, interleague play in cities like Chicago and New York will be spectacular this weekend. These backyard grudge matches may be incidental in the divisional standings but are critical to your standing at the deli or in the break room on Monday. Those cities will be electric from Friday to Sunday, and the Break From the Norm will be appreciated by most fans.
On the other hand, this sideshow interrupts things just as the divisional battles were starting to heat up. And let's not forget that for every White Sox-Cubs barnburner we also get such dramatic and heated "natural rivalries" as Toronto and Colorado (the Snowshoe Series?) or San Diego and Seattle (the Starbucks Series?). Also, we'll have to endure at least two dozen horrendous match-ups waiting down the road (Kansas City-Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay-Washington, anyone?).
(Oh yeah, and count how many times you hear the term "purists" this weekend. When overweight, sanctimonious sportswriters use that term to describe people who don't like interleague play, they must mean Klansmen and World War I veterans. "Purists" likely can't eat corn on the cob and think technology peaked with the hoola-hoop. Seriously, who are these people?)
Regardless of your stance or feeling on interleague play, it's here to stay. Attendance is up 13.3 percent at these games so apparently the fans are in favor of it. In fact, here is a random sample of some of the interleague conversations you may eavesdrop on during some match ups this weekend:
Boston (23-15) at Philadelphia (22-17)
Sox Fan: "So, you hate New York, huh?"
Phils Fan: "Yeah. You hate New York too, right?"
Sox Fan: "Ab-so-friggin-lutely."
Phils Fan: "Cool. Um, wait. Does that mean we hate each other?"
Sox Fan: "Um…"
Cincinnati (23-17) at Detroit (26-13)
Reds Fan: "Hey, is that a Rob Deer jersey?"
Tigers Fan: "Uh, yeah."
Red Fan: "Sweet."
Tigers Fan: "Is that a Chris Sabo jersey?"
Reds Fan: "Sweet."
(Moment of uncomfortable silence)
Reds Fan: "So you're like a real Tigers fan? I thought you guys were a myth, like unicorns."
Tigers Fan: "Hey, can you believe both our teams are above .500 in May!!!"
Reds Fan: "Thanks for the jinx, numb nuts."
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, San Pedro, and Malaysia (17-23) at Los Angeles Dodgers (21-20)
Dodgers Fan: "What'd I miss? Damn, bottom of the fourth already?"
Angels Fan: "Tonto perezoso. Por qué hace no usted obtiene aquí y sostiene su equipo."
Dodgers Fan: "Uh, come again?"
Angels Fan: "Nevermind, usted cerdo capitalista blanco."
Dodgers Fan: "Hey, I'll give you a dollar if you go buy me a beer and a dog, and then walk out and wax my car. How about it? Four shiny quarters."
Angels Fan: "No me insulte delante de mi familia. Quizá si usted había preguntado antes Guerrero estaba arriba."
Dodgers Fan: "Ah, forget it. Look at the time. Gotta run if I want to beat the traffic."
Baltimore (19-22) at Washington (13-27)
Orioles Fan: "Listen, if you take away net neutrality, something fundamental to the democratic and open nature of the Internet, the telecommunications conglomerates are going to run roughshod over the consumers."
Nationals Fan: "Any sort of federal legislation would just be an impediment to the free market system. I trust that the corporations will do what's best for the people."
Orioles Fan: "You're kidding, right?"
Nationals Fan: "No. Not really."
Orioles Fan: "How can you trust these telecom companies after they've willingly allowed The Administration to undergo their illegal domestic spying program?"
Nationals Fan: "Why are you siding with the terrorists?"
Orioles Fan: "Wha…what?"
Nationals Fan: "I have a cousin in Homeland Security. I don't want to have to tell him that I have season tickets next to a communist."
Orioles Fan: "What are you talking about, you sociopath?"
Nationals Fan: "Whiner."
Orioles Fan: "Jerk."
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.