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MLB Notebook 5.23.11: Interleague Play, Matt Joyce's Sizzling May, The Two Best Defensive Plays... So Far

The first weekend of interleague play is in the books, and again the American League won a majority of the games (15-12). The weekend was highlighted by the New York Yankees taking two of their three games against cross-town rival the New York Mets, while the Boston Red Sox did the same to the Chicago Cubs, who hadn't faced the Beantowners since 1918.

For the 15th season, players, coaches and newspaper/internet columnist are rallying against this Major League Baseball event that happens a few times per year.

"It’s grown stale," writes Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press on Monday, "with way too many meetings between teams that have little in common and way too many wasted games against teams that don’t compete against each other in the regular season standings..."

"...It’s cheapened the All-Star Game, and diminished the World Series. While there was once a mystique about players from the two leagues meeting, that is gone now that they meet in some 250 games in the regular season."

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland also believes that interleague play has run its course -- of course, Leyland is not happy with the system because he can't use his designated hitter Victor Martinez in six games. (My solution: get rid of the DH!)

SB Nation New York's Ed Valentine, who is a Yankees fan, no longer enjoys the Subway Series like he used to.

"If you have been watching Yankees-Mets this weekend, though, you know that the novelty is gone -- and so is much of the excitement of the first few seasons. There was no sellout at Yankee Stadium on Friday, and there hasn't been much of a buzz all weekend."

Nowadays, it seems that the only people who like interleague play are fans.

"Sunday, the final day of the first series of interleague games in Major League Baseball, saw ballparks filled to 77 percent capacity, based on paid attendance, up from 75 percent the weekend prior," reported on Monday. "Compared to the first set of interleague games that fell on Sunday last season, 2011 had an average of 33,074, up slightly from last year (0.46%) 32,921."

The fact is, most fans are like me and enjoy seeing series like Red Sox-Cubs or Yankees-Cubs (which will happen at Wrigley Field in mid-June), which bring a different buzz to the ballpark.

My only issue with interleague play is that every year there are multiple comments/articles about how it needs to go. News flash media members: This is the 15th season of interleague play, IT'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE! We all know how Commissioner Bud Selig works and as along as he's in charge interleague play is staying. So, just accept it and move on.

Plus, if interleague play was removed how would hardcore baseball gamblers, who bet heavily on the AL and make a killing, make a living?

On to the past week's top stories:

Matt (Re)Joyce!: Last week in my MLB Notebook: 5.16.11, I mentioned how good Boston's Adrian Gonzalez had been during the month of May. However, Tampa Bay Rays Matt Joyce is possibly having a better month.

Currently, Joyce is leading the majors in batting average (.355) and a lot of that has to do with is scorching May, which features a .397 batting average, .762 slugging percentage, five home runs, 15 RBI and 17 runs in 19 games.

The Rays (26-21) are tied with the Yankees (25-20) atop of the AL East standings.

AL East Standings

New York 25 20 .555 0 Won 2
Tampa Bay 26 21 .553 0 Won 1
Boston 25 21 .543 0.5 Won 1
Toronto 23 23 .500 2.5 Lost 1
Baltimore 21 24 .466 4 Won 2

(updated 5.23.2011 at 10:53 AM EDT)

Cleveland Indians still rolling: As of Monday, the Indians (29-15) have the largest division lead in the MLB. On Sunday, the Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, one of the better teams in the National League, and lead the Tigers (23-23) by seven games in the AL Central.

I don't like to anoint a team a division winner in late May, but I don't know if there's a team consistent enough in the AL Central that can catch the Indians. Of course, the AL Central is like the NL West and you never know know what's going to happen come the dog days of summer.

AL Central Standings

Cleveland 29 15 .659 0 Won 3
Detroit 23 23 .500 7 Won 1
Kansas City 22 24 .478 8 Lost 2
Chicago 22 26 .458 9 Won 2
Minnesota 15 30 .333 14.5 Lost 3

(updated 5.23.2011 at 10:54 AM EDT)

MLB's best defensive plays... So far: A few weeks ago, Cincinnati Reds second basemen Brandon Phillips made this beauty of a play against the Houston Astros.

At the time, many thought that highlight would hold up as the best defensive play of the year. Well, this week Cleveland's Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera did Phillips one better with the bare-handed, behind-the-back double play.

Both plays are spectacular, but I am giving the slight edge to Cabrera because not only did he need to adjust to the ball, which he picked with his bare hand, he delivered a perfect strike to the second basemen, who turned a textbook double play.

Either way, it's easy to say that these guys are good.

Weekly Nugget No. 1: On Thursday, for the first time in my life I registered a car under my name. My new ride is a 1992 Toyota Camry with 173,000 miles on it (this tells you how much money I get for this gig). Now, the car is in great shape for the age, but there is a catch: The car is manual. I've never learned how to drive a manual car and slowly getting used to it. It's very frustrating stalling your car over and over again. If anybody has any hints for me, I'd appreciate it.

(Quick side note: I went to the DMV to register my car and while I was there I decided to update my driver's license photo, which was taken when I was 16. Well, as I went to take the picture I forgot that I had been wearing a hat all day. Let's just say my picture looks as if I got arrested for being drunk in public, but had a great time doing it. Don't worry, as soon as the picture comes I'll share it.)

Weekly Nugget No. 2: If you have not yet seen this YouTube clip of the Clemson and Davidson baseball teams entertaining fans during a rain delay. Well, enjoy and make sure you're not drinking anything.

Have your own thoughts on the MLB Season? E-mail:; or Tweet: Jared_E_Smith. Here are other previous MLB Notebooks: 4.21.11; 4.25.11; 5.2.11, 5.9.11, 5.16.11.