Is interleague play good for baseball?

I think that the consensus is that, yes, it is good and it allows people to see matchups that they would not ordinary witness should their teams not square off in the World Series.

I’m one to lean against interleague play since it waters down the National League versus American League rivalry. Beats the strike-shortened 1994 season, I suppose. Just a thought. I mean, even Bayside and Valley got old in Saved by the Bell ... or did it?

Zenyatta ... well, she did it again. She swung wider than a slow-pitch softball bat. She won by a neck and let everyone look at that enormous backside that Sir Mix-A-Lot would be proud to call his own.

Hey Ladies!
Yeah?
Wanna roll in my Mercedes?
Yeah!
Turn around. Stick it out! Even white boys got to shout, Zenyatta got back!



Her thundering win in the Clement L. Hirsch did a few things. One, it means that when Zenyatta’s connections shoot for the Breeders’ Cup Classic they plan to aim for 20 wins in a row—assuming she wins her next start, the, er, Zenyatta Stakes (oh, Lady’s Secret, you’re so 1986.)

Meanwhile on the East Coast Rachel Alexandra readies for the 1 ¼ mile Personal Ensign—a true test as to whether this filly will go to the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Ladies’ Classic. She turned a 1:12.96 ¾ drill at the Oklahoma Training Track Monday morning. That deserves a Joey Lawrence “Whoa!”

Let’s pause. Think about it. I can hear it now. Say, hypothetically, that Rachel doesn’t put in a monstrous effort in the Personal Ensign, which, let’s face it, she won’t, because the other girls have hit puberty and the competition is tighter. But what if she loses and Mr. Borel comes back and says, “She just got tired at the end.”

Next, the Sportsman JJ comes out and says, “Rachel told us that ten furlongs was too long ... and she is still in the middle of writing her amazing legacy alongside the likes of Curlin.”

He will say that nine furlongs—a distance we all know she relishes—is her race and will thus run in the Ladies Classic and dodge Zenyatta, who opened up Breeders’ Cup Classic Futures wagering as the favorite, this according to A.J. Ryder’s story for bettingchoice.co.uk.

Zenyatta’s win the Clement L. Hirsch also insured that a bout with Rachel Alexandra would happen no sooner than November—a time that I petitioned should have been now. But I got to thinking, and it all comes back to how you feel about interleague play: don’t you want to see the best square off against each other one time for all the marbles and on the biggest stage in their respective sport?

I used to crave for racing to come up with a modern-day rivalry the likes of which haven’t been seen since Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, as well as Affirmed and Alydar. I want to see Rachel and Zen race like anybody else, but would it mean as much in April (Apple Blossom) and August (Personal Ensign) as it would in November? Of course not. So maybe all of our attention when we knew the two would be running in 2010 was misguided. Hey, this is OUR Brett Favre story.

Some proposed that R and Z should run multiple times, others said they wouldn’t race at all. If we get one, let’s be thankful. Maybe Blame will get up to be the sweetest overlay this side of Invasor.

I get the sense that with every waning race a rivalry gets watered down, the Kool Aid gets thin, my Sam Adams morphed into a Michelob Ultra, the ice in my margarita melted.

So what can happen in 50 yards? That’s how much longer Rachel has to run than she has ever run before. Remember, she won by a diminishing head in the 2009 Preakness at 1 3/16 miles. In that 50 yards, perhaps Mine That Bird catches her. But what will happen in 50 yards at Saratoga? A track that will likely be skimmed such that she can burn it up like she did in 2009’s Woodward.

It will be interesting to note. A less-than-stellar effort will undoubtedly point her away from THE Classic and away from the one horse in the one race people want to watch.

It’ll be worse than interleague play. It will be1994 all over again.

Brendan O’Meara blogs about horse racing here at HRI and at The Carryover. He also blogs about narrative nonfiction and his book project “Six Weeks in Saratoga” at The Blog Itself. His Web site is http://www.brendanomeara.com.