5 Costliest (and Cheapest) Tickets in Interleague Baseball

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Baseball's interleague play is back, and so are the high-priced seats for regional rivalries.

Major League Baseball's American League and National League teams are facing off for the 15th consecutive season, which is just about as long as fans have been arguing over the merits of interleague matchups. Interleague supporters love the local and regional rivalries, World Series rematches, pairings of historic franchises and visits by players they wouldn't see during their league's regular schedule.
The Yankees and Mets faced off in May 2011 and do so again today -- at ticket prices of $39 to $561.

The downside is misery that comes from Seattle Mariners/San Diego Padres matchups and other arbitrary scheduling and the futility of American League pitchers stepping into the batter's circle. The novelty of C.C. Sabathia's full frame flailing away at the plate wears off pretty quickly.

Instead of dwelling on the questionable draw of a Miami Marlins/Toronto Blue Jays matchup, however, we decided to take a look at the best interleague rivalries and see which bring the best resale value. With help from Ticketmaster's TicketsNow resale offshoot, we priced out the 10 biggest rivalries and saw which games were selling well above face value and which will probably have tickets available well after the first pitch:

Cleveland Indians at Cincinnati Reds
June 12 at Great American Ballpark
Ticket prices: $8 to $128

The Battle of Ohio or Ohio Cup usually means a lot more within the Buckeye state than it does outside it, but this year is just a bit different. The Reds have muscled their way to the top of the National League Central, while the Indians briefly took the AL Central's top spot before finding themselves in a dogfight with the Chicago White Sox. The Indians have a 39-36 edge in the series, but each team's race for the top could make this series spicier than a bowl of Skyline Chili. That said, the price of a ticket for this matchup is among the lowest on our list.

Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals
June 15 at Busch Stadium
Ticket prices: $17 to $199

When purists argue against interleague play, this series is usually Exhibit A of their evidence to the contrary. This was a great matchup in 1985, when the Royals beat the Cards for their last World Series title, but it's been a bit lacking since. The Royals haven't made the playoff since and haven't had a winning season since 2003. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have had only one losing season since 2000 and have won two World Series in that span. The Cards hold a 38-28 edge over their Show-Me State rivals, which may be driving down demand a bit.

San Francisco Giants at Oakland A's
June 22 at O.co Coliseum
Ticket prices: $31 to $255

It doesn't matter if it's the 49ers and Raiders or Giants and A's: A Bay Area matchup is going to sell regardless of how either side is doing. The Bay Bridge Series hasn't been kind to the Moneyball boys from Oakland lately, though, as the Giants have held a 13-8 advantage since 2009. That includes a 3-3 split in 2010 that the Giants happily took en route to a World Series Title. The Athletics still lead the series 46-43 since 1997 and won the teams' only World Series matchup in 1989, but that's of little consolation when the Giants are contenders in the NL West while the A's are battling Seattle for last place in their division.

Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles
June 22 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Ticket prices: $13 to $268

Two first-place teams in the Beltway Series? Oh, it's true. Since helping the Boston Red Sox finish their late-season collapse in spectacular fashion last year, the Orioles snagged the top spot in the AL East and have had a tenuous hold on it since. The Nationals' high-powered pitching hoisted them atop the NL East, but their time there has been similarly fragile as the Braves, Marlins and Mets keep chipping away. The Orioles have built a 21-18 lead since the series began in 2006, but both teams' recent success have added some rancor to what was already a natural rivalry.

Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Marlins
June 8 at Marlins Park
Ticket prices: $6 to $305

The Marlins have a new coach, a roster full of new players, a new stadium and renewed life in the NL East since they last played the Rays in 2011. What do the Rays have in that span? A playoff appearance. This is the state of the Citrus Series, where the Marlins still have Florida bragging rights thanks to a 42-37 lead over their Tampa counterparts, but the Rays have had a lot more recent success. The Marlins still have two World Series wins to their credit, but the Rays were the last Florida team to appear on baseball's biggest stage in 2008. From that season onward, the Rays have gone 16-8 against the Marlins. With both teams sporting nearly identical records this season, we'll see if the Marlins' swank new digs make any difference.

Houston Astros at Texas Rangers
June 15 at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington
Ticket prices: $16 to $306

It's a rivalry, sure, but it won't be interleague for much longer. The Astros are heading to the American League next year, where they'll face the Rangers a whole lot more often as division rivals. That's not exactly great news for the Astros, who haven't won a season series against the Rangers since 2006 and have watched the Rangers appear in two consecutive World Series in the last two years. The Rangers lead the series 39-30, while the Astros have spent the seasons following their 2005 World Series appearance trying to stay above .500. They haven't managed that feat since 2008, which is also the last time they didn't outright lose their season series with their fellow Texans.

Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox
June 18 at U.S. Cellular Field
Ticket prices: $26 to $386

The Cubs may have the pretty old stadium with the ivy and Ron Swanson wearing their hat, but the Sox have made this a one-sided series without any help from groundskeepers or Darryl from The Office. The Southsiders won the teams' only world-series meeting in 1906, won the city's most recent World Series title in 2005 and lead the Cubs 48 games to 39 in interleague play. The Cubs haven't beaten the White Sox in a season series since 2007, but Sox fans don't really get tired of watching the pride of Wrigleyville get run out of The Cell. Hence the lofty ticket prices.

Milwaukee Brewers at Minnesota Twins
June 15 at Target Field
Ticket prices: $26 to $431

So Zach Greinkie's having a hard time getting the Brewers over .500 all by himself. So the battered frames of the players fans used to know as Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can't scrape the Twins off the bottom of the AL Central. So what? The brats are cooking, the beer is cold and the weather is getting warmer. Can you think of a better reason to get out to a ballgame by Lake Michigan? Neither can fans of these two once-proud teams, which is exactly why these tickets are a tough get. This series doesn't look like much, but for fans in Minnesota and Wisconsin this may be as good as it gets this season.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Los Angeles Dodgers
June 13 at Dodger Stadium
Ticket prices: $7 to $485

Remember during the offseason when the Angels were snapping up prized free agents such as Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson while the Dodgers waited for the team's sale to go through and just hoped coach Don Mattingly could work with what he had? Yeah, about that. The Angels are just now clawing their way above .500 while the Dodgers have raced out to the best record in baseball. The Angels have dominated the Freeway Series by winning 50 out of 86 games, but it's a much tougher trip up I-5 this year.

New York Mets at New York Yankees
June 8 at Yankee Stadium
Ticket prices: $39 to $561

The Subway Series is in New York's blood, which always manages to boil a few degrees higher when the Yankees and Mets play each other. The Yankees lead the series 49-35, not including their win over the Mets in the 2000 World Series, giving their already smug fan base a nearly impenetrable cloak of self-satisfaction. The Mets, meanwhile, put up a record similar to the Yanks' this season despite anticipating only disaster and financial instability in 2012. Coupled with the franchise's first no-hitter, recently thrown by reluctant ace Johan Santana, the overachieving Mets have boosted fan expectations to the point that normally sought-after interleague games now have playoff-type demand. With low-end tickets already near $40, this could get both interesting and expensive in a hurry.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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