Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Man, Does The National League Suck

For most of my lifetime of enjoying baseball, and basically that came in 1985 with the World Series where the Cardinals wuz robbed, and then the development of a favorite team came when I picked a regional allegiance with the Atlanta Braves, I have, in general, preferred the National League. But since the moment I became a baseball fan, I've seen the American League pretty much dominate the National League in the All-Star Game. The World Series has pretty much been back and forth, except for those Yankees days in the late nineties. But the All-Star Game? Forget it. How many has the NL won since 1986? Try 4 times. I don't remember this too well, but the NL somehow won 3 in a row from 1994-1996.

You could actually forget it when the lineup cards were made. So much power stacked on that AL side, as has always been the case during this run, which just so happened to coincide with my interest in baseball, after the NL had themselves gone on an unprecedented run of dominance where they won nearly all the time from 1950-1985, a 28-7-1 record. Yeah, there was a tie in 1961. Everyone must have been calling for Commissioner Frick's head that day.

But look, the NL had guys like David Eckstein starting. Good player, I'd like to have him on my team, but that isn't fair. Carlos Beltran got voted in by the fans and played 5 innings--he surely earned it after batting .266 with 9 HR (to the uneducated, that's underachieving, especially for a guy who makes $17 million). Somehow, Mike Piazza got voted in, too, and he started the game and played awhile. I wonder if Terry Francona and Joe Torre got together with some other AL managers and decided to "Rock the Vote." Hey, we'll secretly vote guys on the NL that seem like All-Stars but we know will be no problem come game time. Stuff the ballots! It was just a mismatch. It might as well have been guys with no arms and no legs, blind and deaf, wheelchairing to the plate carrying a pixie stick to bat.

And what could these pitchers do? Giving up 7 runs must have felt like some sort of moral victory. If there could have been a little more thunder out there, then that wouldn't have been difficult to match. I enjoyed seeing Andruw Jones hit his 2-run HR. That was majestic. He proved he should have been playing instead of Beltran.

And, even though I don't feel home-field advantage to mean much in the playoffs except for a select few series, the AL getting to start at their park, again, in the World Series is a tough mental obstacle. I've never been very hard on Bud Selig (I know quite a few just downright hate him), but making the All-Star game "mean something" to the World Series is completely illogical. I mean, we'll see it one day, I promise, if this is allowed to continue. Let's take a moment from real life. Hank Blalock hits that game-winning HR off Eric Gagne a couple of years ago. Let's say Blalock gets traded to the eventual NL champion, his HR having cost his own team the chance for home field advantage. Everything else relies on best records, why can't the Series?

Anyway, a terrible show the NL put on, again. They trot out Luis Castillo and Jimmy Rollins and the AL says, "Well, I've got Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz...ooh, Miguel Tejada...oh wait, here's Alex Rodriguez...I'll substitute Gary Sheffield at some point, maybe Ichiro Suzuki..." I'll tell you who the have-nots are...it's the whole damn National League.


At 7/12/2005 11:37:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I agree. What do you think about a guy like Danys Baez who could be traded any day? He could end up on the Braves or some other NL team easily. The whole concept of making this game count is absurd, especially when it's the fans who choose the teams, not the managers who would really care. Absurd, absurd, just like the unbalanced schedule.

At 7/13/2005 12:01:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

And none of it makes any sense. I could say that the AL gets stacked with more power due to the DH posistion. Which of course is an area you can place a great hitter that can't really do much in the field anymore. But with the exception of David Ortiz, there weren't any regular DH's on the team.

And what about the power in the AL; almost every year the homerun leader is in the National League, and sometimes it's the top three or four home run hitters. The same goes for most runs, RBI's, hits, average, etc. In all the top ten's every year with hitting I bet it's usually six or seven in the National League. I could be off a little here, but it sure does seem like it.

So, is the pitching better in the AL? Possible. I don't know. Everything seems so balanced until you watch the All Star game. Maybe the NL fans just don't know how to vote. And I am a huge NL fan; I hate this DH bullshit. The only AL teams I typically enjoy are the ones who play like NL teams; the Twins and the late nineties Yankees.

And as for the game meaning something. Wasn't a game for the fans always enough? It was for me. It used to just be a fun game to watch; the fact that it meant nothing to the regular season made it even more fun. Now we're supposed to care because of this home field advantage bullshit. It angers me to no end. Some of my fondest memories are from past all-star games. Cal Ripken hitting that home-run in his final season. Randy Johnson pitching to an extremely intimidated John Kruk. Bo Jackson leading off the game one year with a towering home run in his home ball park. Hideo Nomo striking out the side on nine straight pitches. This game has always meant something to the fans, and now Selig somehow manages to take that away.

At 7/13/2005 08:10:00 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

The recent disparity in wins, I think, can be attributed almost entirely to the Yankees, who are a vaccum for talented offensive players. The Red Sox, with their own high pay roll and being in direct competition with the Yankees only makes it worse. No team in the national league spends like those two do, so there is less pressure to obtain the top superstars. The only team that really tries to do so is the Mets, and they suck at it. They're like the Yankees of the late 80s, big bucks for name players, but not good players.

Since the All Star Game features basically the top 2% of MLB players, the big discrepancy in income distribution will put more of those players in the American league. When dealing with such a small sample size it only tkaes a few teams to throw everything out of whack.

Als, NL fans suck at voting.

Also, as to why the NL tends to have the eventual HR champ, it's all about the DH.

Starters are almost always better than relievers. In the NL, starters tend to have shorter outing as they are frequently pulled for pinch hitters around the 5th or 6th. Consequently the top hitters in the NL get more at bats against bad middle relievers than do AL sluggers. While AL starters tend to have slightly higher ERAs, they also tend to pitch more innings.

At 7/13/2005 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

But, boy is Miguel Tejada awesome or what?!?!

Can't tell you how much fun it is (again) to be an Orioles fan.

And you're right about the Ripkin home run...that whole season gave me goosebumps, as he seemingly hit home runs in his final games at all the different away parks. That guy was my hero as a kid!

At 7/13/2005 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

My favorite baseball player growing up was George Brett, but Ripken was a close second.

At 7/13/2005 11:59:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

George Brett was great. Pine Tar.

You know, a few nights ago, watching Wheel of Fortune with my roommates...I saw George Brett.

They were filming the week's episodes in Kansas City and they interviewed him. Seemed like a nice guy, but there wasn't any substance to the interview.

But I gathered from the crowd reaction that he is likely one of the biggest sports heroes in that town.


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