To Barry Bonds, this whole business of a Bay Area rivalry is baloney.
''It's not as important as playing someone like the Dodgers, but we do want to beat any team, so there's no more emphasis on beating the A's,'' the Giants star said.
''I'd like it a lot better if we could play teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox.''
When it began in 1997, interleague play was the most debated change in baseball since the designated hitter. Some loved the idea and others hated it, but almost everyone agreed -- it would alter the game forever.
Now, except for a few spots -- New York, Chicago and any place Mark McGwire plays, among them -- the concept is becoming rather ho-hum.
''The A's are nothing special,'' San Francisco first baseman J.T. Snow said. ''To tell you the truth, I don't care for interleague play. I'd rather see more games against teams in our own division. It's more significant to play the Dodgers or Diamondbacks.''
Added Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia: ''When it first started, it was a pretty interesting idea. I don't know if it's gotten old.''
Initially, the plan was to rotate opponents. Instead, for the fourth straight year, it's West vs. West, Central vs. Central and East vs. East.
There is a chance, however, that could all change, possibly as soon as next year.
Oakland manager Art Howe would like to see another switch.
''There is a big advantage that the National League teams have and that's with the pitchers hitting. That's my beef,'' he said. ''When we're playing in a National League park, I don't think it's fair.''
''For me, that's the biggest problem. When they play at our place, they just put in another hitter and there's not that much drop off,'' he said.
NL teams, which do not use the DH during interleague games at their parks, began this year with a 362-327 overall edge. This season's AL-NL matchups will take place between now and June 11, and then from July 7-18.
One matchup that has blossomed is Yankees-Braves. New York, which beat Atlanta in the 1996 and 1999 World Series, is at Turner Field this weekend.
''Our team wants to play them just because we've got a nice little rivalry going,'' Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones said.
New York shortstop Derek Jeter was also eager for the games.
''It's almost like the American League representative playing the National League representative,'' he said.
HEALTHY HUNDLEY: Todd Hundley, healthy for the first time since reconstructive elbow surgery in September 1997, is finally hitting like the catcher the Los Angeles Dodgers thought they got before last season.
Hundley was batting .290 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs heading into the weekend -- only one homer and three RBIs behind former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza.
That doesn't surprise the New York Mets, who shipped Hundley to Los Angeles after re-signing Piazza to a $91 million, seven-year contract in 1998.
''If we hadn't re-signed Mike before last season, Todd was going to be our catcher,'' Mets GM Steve Phillips said. ''We saw Todd throwing at the end of the year, and our doctors said he'd be even better in the spring of '99. So it doesn't surprise me that he's back swinging the bat and throwing better.''
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