I realize there are much bigger issues out there, but I have to rave on about something. And that is the ridiculous rule of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game deciding home-field advantage in the World Series. Before this, home-field advantage alternated every year between the two leagues, National and American. But this new, unimproved custom was adopted after the 2002 All-Star Game; which ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, because teams ran out of players. This essentially forced Bud Selig, then-commissioner of MLB, to end the game in a draw.
Attempting to remedy this, the following year Selig devised his “genius” plan of making the game mean something, by having its outcome decide home-field advantage in the World Series. He even had a catchy phrase for it, “This time, it counts.” But, in doing so, Selig didn’t solve anything. Although, luckily, it hasn’t happened since, in no way does that mean a tie couldn’t happen again. Numerous games go into extra inning ties during regular season play, when both teams are certainly trying to win. That is just the nature of the game, you play on until one team wins.
But the All-Star Game is supposed to be no more than a mid-point break in the long grind of the regular season. A chance for the League to showcase its talent and give fans the opportunity to see that year’s best players gathered in one spot. The same holds true for other major sports, none of whose all-star games count for anything. But, as an article by ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant stated, baseball has managed “to transform the Midsummer Classic into the worst oxymoron in sports: the meaningful exhibition.”
In fact, instead of solving the problem, Selig actually could have potentially made matters worse. Before, if the game ended in a tie after 9 innings, so what, it didn’t count anyway. But if a tie happened now—and it most certainly could—the teams would, in essence, have to play on because it now means something at season’s end. And anyone who watches baseball knows a game can go 15 innings or more before being decided. This greatly increases the risk of injury and also of players, especially pitchers, not being readily available when returning to their respective teams for regular season play.
Voice of Logic
A logical alternative to this madness would be to follow the NHL and NBA style, which is granting home advantage to the team that earned it—the one with the best record. Another noteworthy option was proposed by Tim Kawakami, columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, which is to award World Series home-field advantage to the league that wins the most games in interleague play. He states, “If you’re going to have interleague play, why not use it to decide home-field advantage for the ultimate interleague series?” (both of these are better options even to the previous practice of alternating years). Kawakami goes on to say that the World Series “should not be affected by the whims and mercies of players in July, just putting on a show, as they should.”
But the current system in place does just that. Which also raises an interesting question by ESPN’s Bryant, “If the game counts, why don’t the stats?”