The American League is better than the National LeagueOctober 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Baseball | 16 Comments
So the NLCS begins tonight as the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Philadelphia Phillies. I’m predicting that the Dodgers will win the series, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Whoever wins will be a sacrificial lamb in the World Series for the winner of the ALCS.
The simple truth is that the American League is a much more competitive league, with much better teams than the National League. That is why the American League wins the World Series almost every year, why the American League dominates inter-league play, and why the American League wins the All Star game every year.
I am not convinced that any National League team would have made the playoffs if they were in the American League this year. Yes, that includes the Chicago Cubs. In fact if the Cubs, the team that had the best record in the National League, played in the A.L. East, I don’t think they could have even finished in fourth place.
So why is there such a competitive imbalance between the two major leagues? I have given this a lot of thought and I’ve concluded that it’s all because of influence of the New York Yankees. Hear me out…
We all remember the Yankees winning the World Series in 4 out of 5 years between 1996 – 2000. They developed a few players from their farm system, but more importantly, they were willing and able to pay more money than any other team to sign the best players in baseball. That’s why they were so good. The other teams in the American League had to drastically improve their operations in order to compete with the Yankees.
The Boston Red Sox did this in the most visible ways. They began to spend almost as much on payroll as the Yankees, and they also built one of the strongest farm systems in baseball. Since 2003, the Yankees and Red Sox have been the strongest teams in the A.L. The Angels also reacted to the Yankees success by increasing payroll and by forming one of the smartest front offices and coaching staffs in baseball, which has led to their success. The Oakland A’s reacted by developing a whole new philosophy for a small market team to compete, Moneyball, and they’ve utilized that in making the playoffs several times. Another small market team, the Twins, used a brilliant player development strategy to build a consistently winning team. The Indians developed a whole new generation of strong players. The White Sox and Tigers made many smart free agent signings and trades to win and make the World Series in 2005 and 2006, respectively. The Blue Jays have developed the best pitching staff in baseball, although they haven’t seen their work result in a playoff appearance yet. And of course, the Tampa Bay Rays completely revamped their organization at every level and made many smart baseball decisions in order to vault past the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays this year.
My point is that the success of the Yankees caused every other team in the American League to become smarter about how they built their teams in order to compete. Teams realized that they could complain all they wanted that the Yankees had more revenue than anyone else, but that wasn’t going to change anything. The American League teams reacted by hiring the smartest front office executives, scouts, managers, and coaching staffs in baseball, and they signed and developed most of the greatest baseball players.
Now, in 2008, it’s clearer than ever that the American League is the home of the best teams in baseball. I won’t even get into how ludicrous it is that pitchers bat in the National League. It’s like if the NFL had a rule that teams had to hand the ball off to their kickers five times per game. OK, I guess I am getting into how silly it is that pitchers bat in the N.L. but that’s not my main point…
I’ll be watching Game 1 of the NLCS tonight, but the start of the Championship Series for baseball’s real Major League will be starting tomorrow night in Tampa Bay!