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Baseball's 5 Worst Interleague 'Rivalries'

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- Among the annoying minutiae baseball geeks obsess over -- the infield fly rule, the designated hitter, the game's increasing turn toward statistics and away from intangibles -- the subject of interleague play inspires some of the most unbearable debate in the sports world.

To a certain sniveling, whiny, perpetually unhappy portion of baseball's fan populace, 1997 was the year Major League Baseball died. By mandating that teams from the league's American League play teams from its National League -- meaning by forcing professional baseball franchises to play each other -- baseball somehow besmirched the purity of the game. You see, having teams from each "league" (they haven't actually been separate leagues since 2000) play during the regular season instead of existing in completely arbitrary groups that couldn't face each other until the World Series turned the world upside down for people who care about such things and made them even crankier about anomalies such as a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game that led to the outcome of said game deciding home-field advantage in the World Series.

To be fair, if you're the type who obsesses over these things, there's a lot to complain about. Intercity rivalries such as New York's Mets-Yankees matchups or Chicago's Cubs-White Sox games were being played six times a year, which critics say trivialized them (despite the fact that they were still a small fraction of the league's 162-game season). The interleague games were also lumped into specific portions of the season, rather than played all season long.

Tired of hearing the complaints, baseball's powers that be decided to pluck the Houston Astros out of their lifelong home in the National League and plopped them down in the American League for the 2013 season. That gave the National and American "leagues" 15 teams each, evened out the scheduling and allowed baseball to have interleague play year-round. Problem solved, right?

Only if your problem was running out of things to gripe about. Every team gets to play 20 interleague games, but the number of "rivalry" games -- presumably the whole reason baseball is doing this in the first place -- was just cut from six each season to four. Not only that, but instead of playing twice a year, those rivals will play one four-game home-and-home stretch at the end of May.

That still means 16 games a year against throw-in teams from a division in the other league, which is great for a Yankees-Dodgers matchup with some history, but not so much for a Rays-Diamondbacks matchup that rings hollow in Tampa and Phoenix.

It also doesn't change the fact that a third of major league baseball teams don't have a natural interleague rival. In fact, interleague rivalries suffered this year by making the Astros' series against the Texas Rangers an American League West contest instead of an interleague affair.

For those keeping track, that's 10 Major League teams who have to play a four-game series against "rivals" they couldn't care less about. It's these markets that foster much of the anti-interleague sentiment and that fill our list of the five worst interleague "rivalries" of the 2013 season. It's going to be a long four games for fans subjected to the following:

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