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A Home Run for Interleague Baseball

June 21, 1997

Major League Baseball is experimenting with interleague play, often pitting two teams that may play in the same city or state against each other. The experiment also enables fans to see their home teams play against players they have only seen on television. But baseball purists say matches between American League and National League teams should be reserved for the World Series. DEBORAH BELGUM asked four local baseball players their views of the change.

HORACIO RAMIREZ

17, left-handed pitcher who just graduated from Inglewood High School and signed a $100,000 contract with the Atlanta Braves. He leaves Sunday for a rookie training camp before being placed with a Braves minor league team.

I think the interleague competition is a great thing. Rather than waiting until the World Series at the end of the season, you can see some of the best teams face each other. But I also feel sorry for some of the National League West pitchers because they have to face Randy Johnson, a pitcher with the Mariners. He throws pretty hard. He throws 95 to 96 mph and some pitchers might be scared of him because he will outdo them. He is pretty wild on occasions because he hit a couple of people with his throws.

I guess the interleague games are different because you have rivalries between teams like the Dodgers and the Angels or the Cubs and the White Sox. They are from the same area and don't normally play each other. The players are a lot more intense and so are the fans. Those cross-state rivalries have been thrilling.

I don't think interleague play will affect the World Series.

EDGAR ESQUEDA

16, catcher, San Fernando High School

It's great to see the two leagues playing each other. I'll be able to see Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners) and Mark McGwire (Oakland Athletics) at Dodger Stadium. I normally wouldn't get to see them.

It just brings out more crowds. People are paying more attention to baseball. It gets real exciting when you have the real power hitters out there on the plate. Eventually the Dodgers will get to play the Yankees. Before, there was rivalry between the Yankees and the Dodgers and maybe that will start up again.

I'm planning to see the [Oakland] A's play on June 30 [against the Dodgers]. I'm looking forward to seeing Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire.

I don't think it spoils it for the fans who are into watching the World Series. This way you get to see the opposing pitchers [before the World Series] and at least have a little knowledge about how they play.

I think the interleague games will continue because they are attracting much larger than normal crowds. And that is ultimately just a good thing for the game of baseball. It is better for the game.

I think baseball's reputation suffered a little bit from the strike, but interleague playing will bring it back.

FERNIE DUENAS

18, catcher/outfielder, Garfield High School; freshman at East Los Angeles College

I think the interleague playing is great because the National League has the pitching and the American League has the batting.

I think you get to see good games even though I haven't been to any interleague games yet.

The games are good because the atmosphere is different. If you are playing in an American League park, you see more runs because you have better hitters. And in the National League you see a good pitching matchup and fewer runs.

When I heard that there was going to be interleague playing, my reaction was I can now see Ken Griffey Jr. [Seattle Mariners] at Dodger Stadium. He is just a great ball player.

I don't think it will hurt interest in or attendance at the World Series because in baseball you never know what is going to happen. In last year's World Series, the Braves were expected to win, but the Yankees upset them.

I think interleague is going to continue because it is bringing Major League Baseball a lot of money. Most of the interleague games are a sellout or bring in a big crowd.

FRANK PEREZ

16, sophomore, Banning High School, Wilmington; plays first and third base

I guess interleague play is OK. We get to see players like Ken Griffey Jr. and some American League players play over here. But in a way, it is not right because that is what makes the World Series exciting. These people never face each other in the regular season.

Because of interleague play, the World Series won't be as good. In the past, it was an American League team and a National League team facing each other and no one knew each other. If they play during the regular season, then it won't be the same.

I guess it helps baseball. When the Dodgers played the Mariners, the games were sold out. So I guess the fans liked it.

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