The sport of baseball was officially founded in 1839 in Cooperstown, NY. The National League was established in 1876, the American League 14 years later. The designated hitter rule was not instituted until 1973. Again, I feel the need to clarify. Most of my animosity toward the American League is rooted in this one ridiculous decision 37 years ago. Without this monstrous lapse in judgment, the two leagues would pretty much be the same thing and it would only be a question of team loyalty (I would still root for the NL, obvs). But, since history must make its mistakes, I, in turn, must have an irrational emotional response, and that response is "What in the sam hill were you thinking? Why take a beloved sport with such a rich history of great multi-dimensional players and screw around with it? For fun? Just to make me mad so I can rant on my blog?"
Who is arguably the most well-known of baseball greats? Babe Ruth, right? Well, ole Georgie is known as a home run king, but he initially made his name as a pitcher. In fact, he had the lowest ERA of all pitchers in 1916 with a 1.75. His career ERA was 2.28, ranking him 17th all-time amongst pitchers. (To put that in perspective: Curt Shilling is #384 on the list, Nolan Ryan #244, Pedro Martinez #146, and Cy Young himself #59 with a 2.62.) Not too shabby for a home run hitter. Wonder what the Bambino would say to today's AL pitchers who can barely find their way to the batter's box while bemoaning their need to focus on their craft and not spread themselves too thin? I'm betting he would have little sympathy.
From my point of view, 1973 marks the time when one half of the teams in baseball decided to cheat the system in order to allow older players who can no longer hold their own in the field to extend retirement and enable pitchers to once and for all completely separate themselves from the rest of the team. Let's not even allow them in the dugouts, I say. They can sit in the bullpen where their delicate sensibilities won't be bothered by all the bats and helmets lying around. Who wants a reminder of your pitiful failings staring you in the face? Certainly not someone who doesn't feel the need to help produce runs after leaving a fat curve over the middle of the plate resulting in a 2-run homer for the opposition. Way to pull your weight. When I made an error on the field I never felt justified to look my teammates in the face again until I made up for it by crossing the plate myself.
I feel I could go on forever, so I guess I will wrap up by simply saying that to me, baseball is about strategy and teamwork: the shift, a well-timed IBB, a sac fly, protecting the runner while at the plate even if it means going down in the count, and most exciting of all, the suicide squeeze - which in the NL could be laid down by any number of capable pitchers.
I love baseball in any form, but I'll take my Braves and Cardinals over the Red Sox or Yankees any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my ball pure.