DENVER (AP) -As the Boston Red Sox keep shooting double after double down the lines and into the gaps, the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees must be wondering whether they'd be flattening the Rockies, too.
Arguably, all four American League playoff teams are better than any National League team this year.
``I think so,'' Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said Sunday, ``but it's just an opinion.''
No Jerry, it's more than an opinion. It's backed up by facts.
All four AL playoff teams had 94-96 wins. Arizona was the top team in the NL at 90-72. It would be an exaggeration to say the NL has become a glorified version of the Pacific Coast League, but some nights it sure seems that way.
``I think people look for too many answers and get too technical,'' Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``We certainly didn't tear it up any, we had our hands full in interleague play. I think a lot of it is timing, when you catch a team. I think the big leagues is pretty simple: It doesn't matter which league they're in, you play a team that's hot and you just get beat.''
Let's look at interleague play, which began in mid-May and ended before the All-Star break. The AL went 137-115, down from 154-98 last year but the fourth straight season the AL held an advantage.
And the AL has won 10 consecutive All-Star games played to a decision, going 5-0 since the rule change that gave the All-Star winner home-field advantage in the World Series.
Even New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya admits the AL was better this year.
``Boston and Cleveland have proven to be the two best teams,'' he said. ``They've proven in the playoffs that they had the better seasons.''
Sure, AL teams have the advantage of a full-time designated hitter in their ballparks and NL teams must improvise. But in the NL ballparks, AL clubs lose those big boppers unless they rejigger their defense.
Mathematically, that should even things out. But that hasn't been the case.
``Just a cycle,'' Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said. ``The AL has more veteran stars. The NL, like the AL of 20 years ago, is now the young league. It takes strong veteran leadership to get today's youth to rise to their potential.''
Colorado appears to be hampered by the record-eight day layoff following its sweep of the Diamondbacks in the NL championship series, two more days than the layoff Tigers endured before they lost to St. Louis in five games. The Rockies, fourth in the NL West in mid-September, won 21 of 22 entering the Series. Then they lost the first three Series games against Boston, getting outscored 25-7.
``I don't think it's healthy for anyone to sit around for eight, but I thought that was disrespectful to the team that wins to use that as an excuse,'' Leyland said. ``Last year, when we got beat, I credited the St. Louis Cardinals. It was nothing fluky. It was deserved, earned.''
Of course, AL dominance hasn't shown in World Series titles. Since the New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000, Arizona, Florida and St. Louis have won for the NL, and the Angels, Red Sox and Chicago White Sox have won for the AL.
Leyland read omens when Jacoby Ellsbury's blooper down the right-field line dropped for a two-run double in the eighth inning of Game 3. Despite all the statistical analysis, all the preparation, an inch or two sometimes decides games.
Think of Carlton Fisk's ball off Fenway Park's left-field foul pole. Or the roller through Bill Buckner's legs.
From all his nights in dugouts, Leyland can sense when games turn arbitrarily.
``Sometimes those things happen, and when they do, you know inside, in you gut,'' he said. ``You don't have a good feeling when that stuff starts a happen.''
---
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Opening 2018 World Series Odds The 2018 World Series opening odds have been released. Who is favored, who is the biggest challenger, and who is also in the mix?
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Are the Houston Astros going to clinch their first-ever World Series title Wednesday night in Game 7 with an upset win at the Los Angeles Dodgers? Game time is...
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Can the Houston Astros clinch their first-ever World Series title Tuesday night in Game 6 at the Los Angeles...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Los Angeles Dodgers going to ride Clayton Kershaw to a victory over the host Houston Astros in a pivotal Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night? First pitch is at...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Houston Astros going to win a third straight game over the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night in Game 4 of the World Series? First pitch is at...

MLB Team Pages