the decline (and fall?) of the national league
The WSJ has an article on the decline of Major League Baseball’s National League in recent decades. Unlike Gibbons or Will, the author is quite straightforward:
The plight of the NL seems rooted in a chain of events that began in 1973 when the AL adopted the designated-hitter rule — which allows for the pitchers to be replaced in the batting order by a full-time hitter who doesn’t play in the field. The disparity was spurred by new ballpark construction; an unprecedented crop of young power hitters who, for various reasons, almost all fell to the AL; a series of disastrous trades and free-agent signings by NL teams; and a tradition of innovation in the AL that began in the mid-1990s with the Oakland As.
Interesting, though NL partisans (coughNies) will continue to b*tch and moan about purity, despite how little it has to do with the above conversation.