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A Hit for Baseball

Interleague play may not have chased the clouds from baseball's future, but it has undoubtedly brightened the game's image for fans and the media. After the first week of mixed-league play, attendance was showing a 38 percent upward blip.

Does it all portend a new lease on life for the "national pastime"? For a sport that feeds on nostalgia, there are nothing but positives in rekindling cross-town and regional rivalries. The Mets versus the Yankees threw New York into a baseball-happy tizzy. The first Cubs-White Sox game drew 36,213 boisterous Chicago-area fans, on a weekday afternoon, no less. Then there's the cross-bay Giants against the A's in the west, and Toronto against Montreal up north.

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Baseball's a little slow in getting around to this heightened competition - the other pro sports have long played across league lines. And some traditionalists wonder if it'll water down the All-Star confrontation (which used to be the test of National or American League dominance), to say nothing of the World Series.

Not to worry. The interesting new match-ups should help fans forget not only strikeouts, but strikes.

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