That’s what Matthew Futterman at the Wall Street Journal suggests after noting just how imbalanced the American and National Leagues have become:
The American League is clearly the stronger of the two, based on
interleague records and the differences in performance of players who
jump from one league to the other. Since interleague play began in 1997,
AL teams have won eight of 13 World Series and 12 All-Star Games (there
was a tie in 2002). They have compiled a .566 winning percentage
against NL clubs over the past five years. Now that Mr. Selig has
blurred the line between the two leagues–he’s abolished their separate
league offices and umpiring crews–the time may be ripe to go all the
Such a system would certainly breed fairness. And structurally it would be no big trick. It would basically be a matter of scheduling and changing signs and graphics and stuff. And given that I’m a strong supporter of “unalignment” there is no intellectual reason why I should be opposed to such a beast, because really, it’s just the logically conclusion of unalignment.
But . . . no. I have no real sound, objective basis for saying it would be a bad thing. All I have is aesthetics, my hatred of the DH (which would obviously be adopted league-wide), history and my own emotional reactions, but . . . no.
OK, I’ll try to muster a real argument. The article notes that a unified league would function like the English Premier League in which everyone is all lumped together. It’s probably worth noting that only three clubs have won the Premier League title in the past 14 seasons: Manchester United
(nine times), Arsenal (three times) and Chelsea
(twice). Now ask yourself: what’s a bigger problem in baseball: the disparities between the leagues or the dominance of the Yankees and Red Sox?
And no matter what you think of the one big league idea let’s be realistic: it ain’t gonna happen. The biggest reason? Going to such a system — premised as it is on fairness — would demand a balanced schedule. And if it’s one big league, we’re talking a real balanced schedule in which each team plays the others only five or six times a year. Ask yourself this: are the Yankees really going to sacrifice a dozen games against the Red Sox in order to ensure a schedule where they spend 25 or 30 games playing Houston, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Arizona and Florida? Not bloody likely.
But don’t hold that against Futterman’s article because, however unworkable the idea it espouses may be, the observations of the disparities between the American and National Leagues are quite illuminating.