A long-standing barstool argument between fans of American League and National League clubs could fizzle to an end as Major League Baseball moves toward a more homogenous state. Teams face off across the league divide more often now than they ever have, making the prominent distinction that separates them an even greater competitive concern, but will it be money that finally does in the designated hitter?
The Houston Astros made the leap to the AL this season, bringing the number of teams in each league to 15 and charging schedule-makers with the task of fitting in interleague games each week. The once-controversial “creative” break from baseball tradition — pitting teams that play by different rules against each other outside of the World Series — has become the new standard and discussion surrounding it is now less idealistic and more about the nuts and bolts of league-union relations.
The roster spot in question – the American League’s designated hitter – and the batting prowess it commonly brings, is generally higher paid than its NL counterpart (a bench bat or bullpen arm). The larger paycheck naturally makes for a more attractive option from the Players’ Union’s point of view and Business Insider’s Cork Gaines suggests they would have the edge in a future decision, “Eventually, one side has to cave. And considering only half the owners are in this battle, my money is on the players.”
Seeing the number of interleague games rise to 300 for the 2013 season, including near daily examples and the first-ever Opening Day edition, we are witnessing an evolution. This game so rooted in history is shaking loose of tradition, slow as it may be, and – as further evolutionary evidence — the financial end of it will be the final call.
So, while NL fans rattle on about their version of the game having more strategy and AL fans continue claims of a more competitive product devoid of easy outs, none of it may matter in the end.
The game is coming around to the idea. Fans should too.
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