Monday, July 14, 2008
AL vs NL, Revisited
I know, I've done this before. I admit, the American League beats us time after time. Intereleague, All Star Games, World Series. We keep getting beat. We'll probably even lose tomorrow night.
I ran across this article by Darren Everson in the Wall Street Journal? of all places, and it was very interesting. It tried to explain the disparity that has happened between the two leagues in the past years, and it came up with some very interesting theories.
1) Designated Hitter. Obviously. AL teams basically can sign big fat guys who can flat out hit, but are average or below fielders (Frank Thomas). NL teams have to worry about fielding, while in the AL it is a non-issue.
2) New Ballparks. The Tax Reform Act of 1986. This is sort of complicated, but in short, due to this officials started charging teams little or no rent, making it highly attractive for teams to demand new stadiums. More AL teams were playing in stadiums that needed replacing, so it all began with the Orioles building Camden Yards. Between 1992 and 2000, 8 AL teams have built new stadiums, while the NL built none between '78 and '94. All of a sudden AL teams were making more money than NL teams, and in a game with no salary cap, that makes a huge difference. The American League could now afford higher priced athletes.
3) The Oakland A's. They were poor, and couldn't build a new stadium, and couldn't afford high priced free agents, so they hired Billy Beane who took a new approach to building a team through what basically amounts to number crunching. It was a wild success. Since 2000 the A's have won more regular season games than anyone except the Yankees. So to compete, other teams started adopting the same techniques. The Red Sox have used techniques from the A's to win the Series in '04 and '07. Meanwhile, NL teams didn't have to compete with Oakland, so they didn't, and ended up blowing tons of money on Stars on the decline, a-la Griffey Jr.
4) Then came the ridiculous pitching deals. 105 million to Kevin Brown. 121 Million to Mike Hampton. 126 Million to Barry Zito.
So there you have it. No, I'm not bitter, I just think it's very interesting is all.
And at least it gives me something to blame.