Giants’ Sweep Marks Broader NL Dominance

The World Series ended last night.  Honest.  Sadly, the number of people who watched the clinching game – other than fans of the two participants – was probably less than watched K-State pummel Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon.  If you are one of those types who waits until the 6th of 7th game to get into the excitement of the World Series then you missed out altogether.  A quick recap is as follows: one team pitched close to perfectly, played defense impenetrably, and connected for more hits than the other.  This team did this for 4 consecutive games.  Typically when this happens that better performing team can be expected to win all 4 games.  It did, and so the San Francisco Giants won the World Series by sweeping the Detroit Tigers 4-0.  Other than having witnessed the Giants play superb and dominating baseball, probably at historical levels of achievement, you didn’t miss much.

Having dispensed with a basic win-lose championship story, it’s a bit more interesting to consider its broader context in the sport of baseball. The National League is dominating the American League to a surprising degree.  Consider the All-Star Games that the NL has won in each of the last 5 years.  The NL has won the World Series 3 years in a row and 4 out of the last 5.  Over those 5 years the NL is 18-9 in World Series games and with that success comes all the expected statistical lopsidedness.

The NL is simply the better league.  In an era when the DH is being pushed upon the old-school style of the NL, the NL seems to being talking with its bats and saying, “Lay off, we got a good thing going here.” The All-Star Game has meant something to both leagues since the called game in 2002 after which Bud Selig decided to grant the winner coveted host status in the World Series.  As a result the AL has been the Away team for the last five years notwithstanding regular season records. The only team to buck that trend was the 2009 Yankees, who won their only World Series of the decade.  The NL has pretty consistently won the battle of the leagues and that may not change for some time.  While everyone stood properly impressed by the amazing season Miguel Cabrera put on, once the Giants demolished Verlander in Game 1 the whole baseball world knew the Tigers were done. The AL style simply is not as well rounded as the NL, whose players are more dynamic and can do more for a team, with an emphasis on team. The AL players hit for huge numbers and drive in a bunch of runs, but once they come up against a team whose rotation is 5 deep they crumble under the weight of a balanced pitching staff supported by an excellent defense.

The Chicago Cubs finished in last place and a ridiculous 25 games out of a playoff spot.  But, dear Cubbies fans, take solace in the fact that you’re building a team in the right league and, more importantly, the right division. The Cards have won 2 World Series in the last 6 years and the NL Central has placed 10 teams in the NLCS since the Cubs’ 2003 appearance in that series.  So North Siders, there is a shimmer of hope.  You’re building a tremendous farm system that will pay off sooner rather than later, and you’re going against teams that matchup very well when you reach that elusive series for the first time since 1945.