By J. Praught
We’ve reached a sort of lull in the athletics schedule in our LGBT community, as both flag football (sdaffl.org) and softball (afcsl.org) have just wrapped up their seasons. These two leagues are, by far, the most popular in our community. Football has a national All-Star game that San Diego sends a team to, but it’s really only for a select few players.
Softball has teams gearing up for the World Series in late August out in Chicago, with five teams going, so at least there are about 65 athletes with something to shoot for. They’ll be practicing, as well as holding fundraisers to offset the heavy price of attending. Many teams will be traveling to Long Beach for their annual weekend tournament (July 2-3), as well.
But for most of the players, it feels like a dead zone. For some, that is perfectly fine, because playing those two sports takes up just about every weekend. And a summertime of free weekends may be just what the
But for others, there are options out there that may or may not be known. San Diego Hoops (sdhoops.net) holds its weekly Open Gym sessions at Golden Hill Recreation Center on Wednesdays from 6:30-9 p.m.; bring $5 to help pay for the courts and both dark and light shirts to play in.
The San Diego Tennis Foundation (sdtf.org) is about to host the San Diego Open (July 2-3) and has a Saturday Singles recreational league throughout the summer. Swimmers of all skill levels can get involved with the Different Strokes Swim Team (dsst.org). San Diego Bulldogs Wrestling (sdbulldogswrestling.org) runs year round and has weekend workouts at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. And while wrestling is certainly a contact sport, why not get real down and dirty and check out the San Diego Armada Rugby Football Club (sdarmada.org), which practices a couple times a week during the summer.
Maybe full contact isn’t your thing. That’s why we have LGBT pool (sdpool.org) and bowling leagues. Avid hikers can check out Perfect Pace (perfectpace.com), while walkers and runners who want to stay within city limits can look up Frontrunners and Walkers (frwsd.org).
We’ll profile these leagues later in this space, but what you will find is that each of these leagues offers athletes the chance to be as involved as they want to be. Some folks want to be dedicated, regular contributors and can be involved in regular game play, tournaments and other scheduled events. Others may want a more casual commitment of their time, while attending each league’s social activities.
Summer doesn’t have to be a time where nothing happens. Check out one of these leagues and get involved. They’re a great way to keep active and meet new people.
Major League Baseball interleague play is time to go
I used to be a big proponent of interleague play because it offered National League (NL) fans the chance to see American League (AL) teams play. I would get psyched for matchups such as Giants-Yankees and Red Sox-Padres. But even those are starting to lose their luster for me, as we wrap up our fifteenth season of interleague play.
The negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives. First, the most glaring side effect of scheduling games between the leagues is the damage it does to each team’s schedule. It forces teams to play a slew of two-game series scattered throughout the season. With 16 NL and 14 AL teams, there’s always one NL-only series going on, and it causes major headaches when balancing the team’s slate of games. The two-game series is a rather uneventful experience for the fan, but they are a real pain travel-wise for the clubs.
Second, because interleague play is a pure money grab by Major League Baseball (MLB), “natural rivalries” are forced upon us. Sure, television loves showing us Mets-Yankees, Red Sox-Phillies, Cubs-White Sox, Royals-Cardinals, Dodgers-Angels, and Giants-Athletics. But Padres fans are forced to endure six games a year with the Mariners who, quite frankly, are just not very interesting. And the Diamondbacks, located in Arizona, have become natural rivals with none other than the Detroit Tigers. Yeah, because Detroit and Phoenix sure do have a heated history!
Where the schedule gets even more problematic is that these rivalries are required to be in the annual game slate, in addition to the rotating divisional match-ups. What ends up happening is some teams end up playing 15 interleague games, while others play just 12.
Why is this unfair? Because the AL and NL don’t play by the same rules. One team uses the designated hitter, so if you’re playing that extra series as an NL team, you have an advantage if it’s at home (because the road AL team can’t use it’s DH). If you’re visiting an AL park, you are forced to use the DH, and NL teams don’t typically build their roster with powerful DH’s. NL teams’ benches are built around guys who can be double-switched in at multiple defensive positions because the pitcher’s spot is traditionally hit for at least once a game. In the AL, pitchers never hit and thus, pinch-hitting is a rarity. So, AL rosters are stacked with guys who maybe cannot field a position, but can rake.
Finally, the biggest inequity of interleague play is that teams from the same division don’t always play the same teams as their closest competitors. It is possible for two teams in the NL West, for example, to be in a tight race for first place, but one of those teams has to play the Yankees and Red Sox on the road, while the other may face one of them at home and not play the other at all. How fair is that?
MLB will cite the rising interleague attendance numbers as proof that interleague’s popularity is continuing to grow. But at what point are we selling our soul for a buck? It’s great that small markets like Pittsburgh get to play Boston, because their fans get to experience the madness that is Red Sox nation when they normally
But if a schedule cannot be worked out where competing teams play the exact same slate of games, then we’re messing with the integrity of the sport. If a team that has to play the powerhouse Yankees and Red Sox wins the division by one game over a team that was lucky enough not to have them on the schedule, I have a problem with that. Playoff spots are rare rewards in baseball, unlike other sports.
Nobody likes playing games in Colorado at Coors Field, because of the Mickey Mouse offense and what those games do to your bullpen. Padres fans would be marching with torches if San Diego had to play nine games in Denver but the Dodgers only had to play six. That’s the kind of inequity we’re talking about with interleague play.
Interleague was cute and entertaining for awhile, but it’s painfully obvious that it’s affecting teams in an unbalanced, unfair way and it’s time to go.