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He's Dunn It
08-09-2006, 09:21 PM
As a kid I remember the National League destroying the American League year after year after year—the NL was the premier league and had most of the best players. There was a distinct difference between the type of game played.

One example would be that even the NL and AL umpires made a difference as the AL guys “rode the raft” with the exterior chest protectors and therefore didn’t call the low strike as much as the NL guys in blue.

Now there’s one set of umpires for both leagues, no NL or AL presidents, inter league play, free agency and a lack of team loyalty further blurring the line between leagues.

So why has the NL been so down in the past years? And I mean more than Bud Light’s All Star game “this time it counts” after “last time I kissed my sister at home in Milwaukee” I’m interested to hear this board’s thoughts on why the Senior Circuit has seemingly gone in the tank as I try and get my young children connected to this game I love so much.

You could make the argument against the last three NL World Series winners (Fish twice and the expansion D-Backs) weren’t the best team in the World Series…or even in their league that year. (Key word in that sentence is could…)

I’m interested in your reasons…and in a day or so I’ll post some of mine…as to why we’re rooting like crazy for a .500 Reds team to play deep into October.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact the Reds are in the hunt to play in October for the first time since 1999. But a team three games over .500 in mid-August would have been 10+ games back more years, especially when the National League was kicking butt and taking names.

HumnHilghtFreel
08-09-2006, 09:29 PM
It's really kind of tough to say why. A lot of people offer up that it's probably just cyclical, but I don't really buy into that. There has to be some reason why.

I think that the styles of play are what really does it. The AL for the most part plays a slug it out type of game, with the DH and all. In interleague, NL teams aren't used to seeing lineups that keep coming at you with a legit threat 1-9 in the batting order, which I think is why the AL has been so dominant there.

On the whole, I think that the NL lacks the few really great teams right now, so most of the talent within teams is about to the point where it is even. That is causing teams to slug it out amongst each other in their divisions and then you're left with a team hardly over .500 winning the division.

MaineRed
08-09-2006, 09:30 PM
1. Poor management in the entire Western Division. Besides the D-Backs that one year, nobody can really get it going.

2. The Braves choking. A team with 15 straight pennants should have more than 1 World Series win. Probably more like 4.

3. The teams that spend big bucks are better run in the AL. Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees, Angels. Some NL teams that have big payrolls are the Cubs and Dodgers. Two teams who never contend for World Series.

4. It relates to 3 but because of the high payroll teams being run well, they not only have good pitching but also good line-ups. With the DH, some teams have at least 8 solid hitters. A good NL team might have 6.

Good thread topic.

redsmetz
08-11-2006, 09:34 AM
I thought I'd respond to bump this back up in the discussion. I did a Google search asking "Why is the National League so bad?" and came up with this article. Certainly money may be the main culprit, but I've wondered about a couple of items you mentioned, particularly the elimination of the two League offices and the combining of the Umpire Staffs (anyone know if which league the worst umpires came from? I don't know.). I wonder two about the Commissioner's position itself. Selig has just been dreadful at caretaking the game, IMO.

I'd like to hear from other posters too. I don't have time to look at the historical record, but I'm guessing there were other eras of dominance by the American League, but that might be skewed by the Yankees alone.


By: Scott Feldner

It is August 8th, and the best record in the National League, belongs to the New York Mets at an impressive 66-44. 22 games over 500 and 12.5 game lead in the division. So what is so bad about that?

Lets put this in perspective. That record would place the Mets a full 10 games in the win column behind the best record in the American League which belongs to the Detroit Tigers. 10 games. Do you have any idea how long it takes teams to make up a 10 game difference? And guess what? The Mets 66-44 record wouldn’t be 2nd best in the American League either, that belongs to the Yankees at 66-42. Guess what? The Mets would only be 1 game ahead of the White Sox, the Red Sox and the Twins as well.

So what has happened in major league baseball, to throw the cosmic powers of interleague balance so out of whack? Is it the designated hitter? Is it the disturbing lack of pitchers who can hit higher than .100?

Although those might all be factors, its really much simpler than that, its money, money and more money. The financial imbalance in the major leagues, is exemplified by the financial imbalance between the two divisions.

We all know that the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball at 194 million dollars this year. But take a closer look at the numbers, the American League has the #1 spot, the #2 spot with the Red Sox at 120 million, the #3 spot with the Angels at 103 million, and the #4 spot with the White Sox at 102 million. Other than the anomaly that is the #14 ranked Detroit Tigers at 82 million, what do those top 4 spots all have in common? Money buys wins. The Yankees are in first in the East 2 games ahead of, that’s right, the number 2 money team in all of baseball, the Red Sox. The Angles are in 2nd place in the West, and the White Sox are in 2nd place in the Central and leading the Wild Card race.

The facts are there, the best records are in the American league, because the most money is in the American league. So when you look at the standings each day, and wonder why so many sub-500 teams are in the Wild Card race in the National league, make sure you take a look at the 2006 payroll numbers and you will see exactly why.

dabvu2498
08-11-2006, 09:46 AM
4. It relates to 3 but because of the high payroll teams being run well
And two medium/low budget teams being run well: Oakland, Minnesota.

KalDanielsfan
08-11-2006, 09:50 AM
And two medium/low budget teams being run well: Oakland, Minnesota.

agreed..what they do is amazing with what they spend.

I'd throw in San Diego as a well run organization. Petco park is beautiful. u should see a game there once before u die.

redsmetz
08-11-2006, 10:18 AM
And two medium/low budget teams being run well: Oakland, Minnesota.

I think that's why I wanted to resurrect this thread because while the blogger I posted posits that it's money (and I acknowledge that it could be), but I'm not completely convinced that it's the sole reason. It may well just be one of those cycles (albeit a decade or two long) and the pendelum will swing back again. And certainly, IMO, I don't see the Cardinals being extraordinarily different from us. Their market is fairly similar to ours - we just let some of our's get away from us during the Schott and succeeding eras.

Benny-Distefano
08-11-2006, 04:01 PM
"
The facts are there, the best records are in the American league, because the most money is in the American league. "

KronoRed
08-11-2006, 05:07 PM
One thing that the NL should not do is start using the DH.

vaticanplum
08-11-2006, 05:09 PM
"
The facts are there, the best records are in the American league, because the most money is in the American league. "

Bull.

Four out of the top twelve in terms of payroll are AL teams. Take away the 1 and 2, Yankees and Red Sox, since everyone complains they're in a class by themselves anyway in terms of money and media, and that's 8 NL teams from places 3 to 12.

The money thing is a very, very lazy argument in my opinion, and a continued use of it as an excuse will not help solve the real problems in the NL.

vaticanplum
08-11-2006, 05:27 PM
I had an very lengthy back-and-forth typed discussion with two friends of mine about this several weeks ago (which actually ended up in the hands of USA Today, bizarrely). I touched on this in some random thread here back then, but I'm too lazy to search for it.

We considered many possibilites: payroll, a natural shift (one of my friends rather stuck to this argument for the most part; he believes it's a phase which will even out with time), the DH, etc. But one of my friends posited a rather fascinating argument which he did in the end kind of convinced me could be the case.

He believes that there is a kind of snobbishness and unwillingness to adjust inherent within the NL -- a feeling that they play baseball the "right" way (no DH), that this is the way they've always done it, and they're unwilling to change that. He made the point that managers and GMs care about job security just like everybody else, and nobody's going to fire (for example) Wayne Krivsky this year, NO MATTER WHAT, because the Reds did far better than expected within their division (note: I am not saying that Krivsky should be fired.) Basically, they're competing against weaker teams, so that don't have to be that strong.

I don't agree with him all the way here. Nobody can convince me that Tony LaRussa doesn't badly want a world series title for the Cardinals. But where I think my friend does have a point is in the context of a general attitude. The DH is not going away. Offenses need to be strong to compete on the highest level, and pitchers are human, so a solid pitching staff just isn't always going to be enough. I follow closely a team in each league, and there is definitely a real difference in attitudes. Heck, look at what league all the baby GMs, armed with their baseball Prospectuses, are getting hired in. I never hear any AL people talk about playing the game "the right way", or, say, "the Orioles" way (but I do here "the right way" and the "cubs way" constantly on the other hand). I think there may be something else playing here: why doesn't the NL have stronger hitters? Is it because of what they pursue in free agency or is something going wrong in the way they're developing them? I'm not sure, but I think it's clear at this point that something is definitely different here. There is a divide and it just seems to be getting wider.

I don't want to post this conversation because it's very long, but I'll send it to anybody who's interested...again, very long, but it was eye-opening for me anyway.

The Baumer
08-11-2006, 06:46 PM
I think it's because the talent is spread out more evenly among NL teams. In the AL 5-6 teams have most of the goods on their rosters (Yankees have 5 starting outfielders).

Falls City Beer
08-11-2006, 06:48 PM
I think it's because the talent is spread out more evenly among NL teams. In the AL 5-6 teams have most of the goods on their rosters (Yankees have 5 starting outfielders).

Yep.

MaineRed
08-11-2006, 06:49 PM
Bull.

Four out of the top twelve in terms of payroll are AL teams. Take away the 1 and 2, Yankees and Red Sox, since everyone complains they're in a class by themselves anyway in terms of money and media, and that's 8 NL teams from places 3 to 12.

The money thing is a very, very lazy argument in my opinion, and a continued use of it as an excuse will not help solve the real problems in the NL.

But the thread isn't about just this year. Recent memory, money wise the Yankees are in a class by themselves. The only team that comes within a whisker is the Sox. You might have 8 of the next 9 in the NL but the first two, who are AL teams have 5 world series wins in the last 10 years.

I think when two American League teams have half the titles in a ten year span and they also happen to be the teams with perennially the top two pay-rolls in baseball that yes, money does HELP explain this situation. Couple that with the Braves postseason tank jobs and it is easy to see why the AL has dominated recently.

But there are other reason as well. Its not just the money.

He's Dunn It
08-11-2006, 08:11 PM
Glad to see this thread has caused some replies in the past few days.

What I’d like to do is throw out a few ideas—not saying that I agree with them—and get your replies to the various reasons why the NL is so down over the past 10-15 years.

1. New parks have taken out the “small ball” NL style of play. Before expansion and all the new ballparks being built, 50% of the NL teams played on AstroTurf, which came into vogue in the 70s. Here is the breakdown of teams:
Yes—Astros, Cardinals, Expos, Phillies, Pirates, Reds
No—Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Padres


In the AL, only 4 teams played on AstroTurf…and most of the teams that did won World Series Championships during the “transition era” in the mid 80s-early 90s when the AL became a “better” league. Here’s the list:
Yes—Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals, Twins
No—Angels, A’s, Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees

You can also talk about how small the new ball parks are compared to the cookie cutter doughnuts of Cincinnati, Philadelphia, St Louis, and Pittsburg .

2. The Steroid Fiasco. With more of a focus on offense and home runs—think Sosa an McGwire—defense and pitching, a hallmark of NL style baseball, went by the wayside. Players that got the most money hit the ball out of the park, and didn’t hit a groundball to the right side with a runner on second and no one out.

3. Pitchers have become less important to the game. With more and more runs being scored, a stud ace pitcher is less important to each team, another NL mainstay. Think of the dominant pitchers of the 60s-70s-80s and see if more NL pitchers don’t come to mind. Significant expansion has also diluted the talent pool of available pitchers. The AL thinks so little of pitchers they don’t even get to bat. (Gee, do you see where I stand on that issue…)

4. The Braves. Someone mentioned this already. The “dominant” NL pitching and—to some extent—defense team that didn’t win much in the World Series after 14 pennants.

5. The Moneyball philosophy. We’ll need to see how this plays out, but teams like the A’s, Blue Jays and Red Sox (although they’ve gone back to defense in the infield this year) have put things like OBP and other “unique” stats as key indications of how to build a team. Pitching and defense gets removed from these formulas, again an NL focus. I think there’s lots of holes in this book, mainly because the A’s had three stud young pitchers…something that wasn’t addressed much in the book.

6. Front office turnover. I can’t argue this without my bias of having grown up in Indiana rooting for the Reds and going to college outside Chicago and seeing the Cubs. No one hear needs to hear about our crap—from the stuff literally on the field with Marge, to the Banana boy not wanting to spend money. Both of them hated scouting and the farm system. Wrigley and the Cubs and the Tribune didn’t give a rip about the product on the field because they were always going to get 115,000 butts in the seats every weekend. Think of what happened with the Expos front office—or lack of it—and messes that teams like the Mets, Phillies, Pirates, and Padres (who played in the WS) have had over the past decade.

7. No loyalty to the team and town. There was a swagger that someone else posted about playing for and being part of “The Senior Circuit” Now, you go where the money is. The owners screwed themselves on this one after colluding with one another—again about the same time there was a distinct shift of power to the American League. In this case, I would say money is a huge issue, although someone already posted about how teams like the Cubs and Dodgers pee money away every year.

8. Expansion. The NL’s last three World Series winners have all been expansion teams—the Marlins twice and Diamondbacks. With the Rockies drawing 4 million during their early years and trying like hell to win. (Living in Colorado now, it’s staggering to see these pitchers duels—but I love it.) This point just reinforces point #7 and again suggests money as a key issue. The Devil Rays are a joke…but starting to stick with the kids and likely will make some noise soon. The same is true for the “expansion” Brewers.

I’ll stop there so we can get some reactions to the post.

I can’t tell you how great it is to have found this community of intelligent baseball fans to carry on a discussion beyond “isn’t A-Rod good?” And no, he isn’t. But cancers on a team and their inability to win is another topic for another day.

vaticanplum
08-11-2006, 10:11 PM
I think it's because the talent is spread out more evenly among NL teams. In the AL 5-6 teams have most of the goods on their rosters (Yankees have 5 starting outfielders).

I don't necessarily agree with this. I think there are a number of teams in the AL who are fighting for a playoff spot or even out of the race completely who would be in serious contention if they were thrown into the AL right now. Toronto is in third place in the AL East, unlikely to make the playoffs. they'd still be back in second place in either of the other AL divisions, but throw them over to the NL, and they're winning the west and right on St. Louis's heels (and above Cincinnati) in the Central. Same holds true for the third-place Twins. They've won 67 games. That blows away every team in the National League except the Mets. That's a very competitive division, of course, but that's my point -- all three of those divisions are competitive right now. All three have three teams that could legimately make the playoffs, and many of the ones that don't will end up with better records than some of the NL teams that do.

NY, Boston, Toronto, the White Sox, the Tigers, the Twins, and all four AL West teams would be competitive in the NL right now. The converse does not hold true, not for that many teams. I'm tempted to say that right now the AL just has more talent -- or better-constructed teams -- across the board.