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Nozaki proposes interleague play

Hanshin Tigers President Katsuyoshi Nozaki said Tuesday he has proposed a two-league system that would involve intensive interleague play as an “ultimate” plan to settle the dispute over realigning the professional baseball system.

Nozaki said he presented the idea at the executive committee of Nippon Professional Baseball held Monday in Tokyo as a concession to Pacific League teams that are seeking a one-league system after the number of its clubs are reduced from six to four due to planned and anticipated mergers.

The idea calls for enough interleague games so that each team will have faced the teams from both leagues almost the same number of times at the end of the season, he said.

Nozaki said he told the meeting that preserving the two-league format that way would make it possible to continue the All-Star games and the Japan Series championship and at the same time make season play virtually seem like it is operated under a one-league system.

Hanshin wants to maintain the current two-league system even if the number of PL clubs is reduced and has gained backing from all fellow Central League teams except for the Yomiuri Giants.

On Monday, the baseball executives failed to reach an agreement on whether to realign the professional leagues, with the two opposing camps remaining far apart over the issue, but they agreed to continue discussions.

“There is not a single merit to having one league,” Nozaki said, adding that he wants to ask PL team representatives at future talks why they insist on a single-league system.