DALLAS -- As far as historical relevance goes, the Silver Boot ranks right up there with the Iron Skillet and Bayou Bucket but short of the Ralph Neely Bowl, where the prize, Ralph Neely, had already been awarded. Even with these sorts of enticements, we haven't had any luck manufacturing rivalries in Texas. Either it is or isn't.
The Rangers and Astros fall on the "isn't" side, and unless they decide to play for the rights to Nolan Ryan this week, nothing in this three-game series will move the needle.
For that matter, interleague play in general is a concept that, as the Tigers' Jim Leyland recently put it, has "run its course." Or "isn't interesting anymore," according to Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon.
Or is "awful," says the White Sox' Adam Dunn.
Now, it's not that bad, but it's probably not worth the trouble, either. And as long as baseball is rumbling about possible changes in league sizes and playoff structure, let's just clear up everything all at once.
First, though, let's be clear why interleague play isn't working. The basic idea was to give fans a first-hand look at teams they've never seen before and give everyone a Yankees or Red Sox payday. And while it's been fun to show Atlanta fans the penalty for a year-and-a-half rental on Mark Teixeira, it doesn't make up for everything.
Just in case you were wondering if this was going to be a provincial argument, consider last season, when the Rangers benefited greatly from interleague play. In June, when they went from a first-place tie to a 4 1/2-game lead by month's end, 13 of their 21 wins came against Florida, Pittsburgh and Houston. In fact, they went 13-2 against those three NL lightweights. The rest of the month, they were 8-5.
Unless new ownership pulls off a quick turnaround in Houston, the Rangers should continue to benefit from six games a year against the Astros, a product of baseball's dogged attempt to make something out of nothing.
Now the Mets and Yankees are a different story. It's an honest-to-goodness rivalry. Not that it's benefiting the Mets at the moment. Every year, they get six games against the Yankees. Meanwhile, the Mets' chief rival, Atlanta, plays Baltimore and Toronto, last and next-to-last in the AL East.
It's exactly this kind of inequity in scheduling that makes most of us want a playoff in college football. Teams are judged against one another even though they don't play common opponents.
Interleague play not only keeps us from a level playing field, it creates scheduling problems. On top of it, there's the question of what to do with the DH.
Bottom line: We've seen the other league. We've enjoyed ourselves. Now it's time to move on.
As long as we're out to balance schedules, it seems fairly obvious that maybe there ought to be the same number of teams in each league. The NL has 16; the AL, 14. Houston and Milwaukee have been mentioned as the most likely candidates to move over.
After a half-century in the NL and a World Series appearance not so long ago that they've forgotten what it was like, Astros fans probably wouldn't take kindly to a shift.
But someone would, for the right price. The other owners could make it worth Pittsburgh's while.
Frankly, I don't care who it is, but someone needs to go. There's no reason the Rangers get the benefit of a four-team division while the Astros must beat five other teams to be assured of a postseason.
Carrying this realignment proposition to its logical end: No sport cherishes tradition like baseball, so let's go back in time, before 1969. Get rid of the divisions. Make two 15-team leagues. Some propose five playoff teams in each, but that would mean teams waiting for an entire series to be decided. Sitting around a week doesn't work in baseball. Six playoff teams would.
Baseball gets another round of playoffs, which Bud Selig wants. The teams with the best records get in, which is what purists want. And the regular season still means something, no matter what everyone thinks.
Not that the odds of any of the above happening are very good. Ending interleague play would be enough for me. Last man holding the Silver Boot keeps it.