Did you know that Major League Baseball consists of 2 different leagues? Did you also know that these leagues have different rules? Yeah, just one of the
more confusing quirky things about Major League Baseball!
So those 2 leagues…
- The National League (NL), which currently consists of 16 teams, was founded in 1876 and is often referred to as the “Senior Circuit”.
- The American League (AL), which currently consists of 14 teams, was founded in 1901 and is often referred to as the “Junior Circuit” since it was founded after the NL.
Current members of the NL: New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros*, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks
Current members of the AL: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics
The big difference between the two leagues is the designated hitter (not to be confused with the designated hotter) or Major League Baseball Rule 6.10. The designated hitter, or DH, is a player that only hits (just as the name suggests). The DH hits in the pitcher’s spot, but doesn’t have to be used. Since most pitchers aren’t very good hitters (pitchers spend most of their practice time throwing, they usually don’t get much hitting practice and therefore aren’t good at it), you very rarely seen the DH not used during a game.
As of now, the DH is only used in the American League. It was created in 1973 and has been a controversial topic ever since.
Up until 1997, teams from the National and American League would not play each other during the regular season, only meeting up during spring training, during exhibition games, or in the World Series.
In 1997, interleague play was introduced. Interleague play means just what it sounds like, play between the 2 leagues. Each year, usually around mid-June, each team will play 5 or so series against teams in the other league.
What about the DH during interleague play? Well, if the NL team is the home team, the DH will not be used. So if the AL team is the home team, both teams can have a DH.
Baseball fans often argue which league is better. NL loyalists claim that having a DH is sort of like cheating and isn’t real baseball. AL fans say that the DH makes baseball more exciting because replacing the pitcher for a hitter creates more runs (and less bunting - loosely holding a bat and tapping the ball into play, typically to allow a runner to advance to another base).
Personally, I like NL play since I enjoy the strategy of what to do when a pitcher is up to bat, but you should decide for yourself: AL or NL?
*The Houston Astros will be switching over to the American League for the 2013 season, so that the 2 leagues will be even again.
If you have a baseball-related question or topic you’d like to see discussed or explained here, please shoot me an email at LorInBigD@gmail.com or tweet at me @LorInBigD.