Since the commencement of interleague play this year (and cumulatively for the past several years), the Senior Circuit has been labeled with a red I for inferiority.
Following Tuesday night's epic battle, it's time to rethink that logic.
Due to it's 12-year unbeaten All-Star game streak and it's better record in interleague play, the AL has developed an aura of superiority that is perpetuated, if not created, by the national media.
However the competitiveness of this year’s midsummer classic as well as those of the past several years (see Michael Young circa 2006) proves that the differences in the leagues are not that drastic.
First, the interleague debate. As anyone who follows the game knows, baseball is the streakiest of all sports. Teams get matched up at the right (or wrong for the NL) time and anomalies arise in the record.
Look at the Kansas City Royals. They are 10 games under .500 and 12 out of the lead in the Central. Yet, they dominated in interleague going 13-5.
In comparison, the Yankees were only 10-7. Just because the Royals beat the Cards, D-backs, and Marlins doesn’t mean if they were in the NL they’d keep up those numbers.
Each team had a chance in the All-Star game to put it away and neither capitalized. The AL had three people thrown out at home in the late innings, and I think Terry Francona and Bud Selig almost suffered simultaneous aneurisms when Ryan Ludwick made his diving catch in the 15th.
This is the epitome of head to head comparison. The best of both leagues going against each other. In the end, it took six extra innings and a weak throw by the last NL player to be selected for the thing to end.
Beyond the head the head match-up of the two leagues, the NL is competitive where it plays the majority of its games: against itself.
The NL Central is on par with the AL East in terms of talent. The youth of the top three teams (Cubs, Cards, Brewers) are poised to stay there for a long time.
The NL East is very comparable to the AL Central. Each division has an underachieving team on the rebound (Mets and Tigers), a team who most thought wouldn’t be competitive for a month much less half the year (Marlins and Twins), and a solid team who could make a run and shake up the whole division (Phils and White Sox).
Despite what ESPN and SI tell you, the NL is just as good as the Junior Circuit and will continue to prove it.