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The Ridiculously Bizarre Case Of The MLB All-Star Game

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The 87th MLB All-Star game goes this Tuesday from San Diego with home field advantage in the World Series on the line.

Getty Images - 2014 MLB All-Star Game

The 87th MLB All-Star game goes this Tuesday from San Diego with home field advantage in the World Series on the line.

What a ridiculously controversial and absurd prize for something as inconsequential as the ‘Midsummer Classic‘.

Wouldn’t it be way too fair, efficient, and obvious, to hand home field advantage in the World Series over to the team that has the better regular season record?

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MLB.COM

Historically, for many years, home field advantage would alternate between the American League and National League like some sort of summer camp ritual.

This was because Interleague play didn’t exist until 1997. The AL and the NL never played each other except for the All-Star game and the World Series. Alternating home field advantage in the Series seemed like a fair way to police and regulate the unknown. After ’97, many baseball minds began to whisper the potential of rewarding the team with the most regular season wins as the ‘Fall Classic‘ host (and rightfully so).

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But the simplicity of logic is much more complicated when deliberating Major League Baseball.

The 2002 All-Star game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, since both teams ran out of substitute players available to pitch in relief. The commissioner at the time, Bud Selig, orchestrated the vastly-unpopular call to end the game. This decision was met with unpleasantness by the fans who booed and threw beer bottles onto the field (Damn you Selig!). The media obviously had a field day with this unsatisfactory conclusion, and much negativity was aimed towards Selig and this ridiculous ruling.

In a bold PR move for the ages, MLB announced the following year that they had reached an agreement with the players union. This agreement would see the League that won the All-Star game get to host the World Series in the present 2-3-2 format. It was temporary at first, and then made permanent in 2007.

So basically, regardless of how many wins a team complied in the regular season, home field advantage for the pinnacle of baseball was decided by a mid-season coin flip.

It’s really outrageous in hindsight, but apparently the new format pleased the powers that be, and so it was written… Baseball history and tradition was forever altered because of a 7-7 tie in the 2002 All-Star game.

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 9: MLB Comissioner Bud Selig confers with the game umpires in the 11th inning during the MLB All Star Game July 9, 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The game was ruled a tie. (Photo By Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE, WI – JULY 9: MLB Comissioner Bud Selig confers with the game umpires in the 11th inning during the MLB All Star Game July 9, 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The game was ruled a tie. (Photo By Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

There is copious amounts of head scratching surrounding this boondoggle of a decision.

Where to start?

How about with a quote from veteran sports journalist Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe from July 5th of 2015:

“So now we have a game that’s not real baseball determining which league hosts Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the World Series. It’s not a game if pitchers throw one inning. It’s not a game if managers try to get everyone on a bloated roster into the game. It’s not a game if every franchise, no matter how wretched, has to put a player on the team. And it’s not a rivalry when the AL and NL play each other all the time and even the umpires are all the same. The only difference in the two leagues is the DH, and, yes, that too is an absurd concept.”

For me, an example of the sheer fallacy of this All-Star home field advantage debacle can be traced to the Box Score of the 2011 ASG.

Have you had a chance to absorb that 2011 Box Score? 20 players from each league taking 33 (AL) and 31 (NL) at-bats respectively.

NINE pitchers used by the AL while, wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… TEN pitchers used in the game for the NL?!?!

TEN pitchers in one game son.

C’mon man?!

I understand not wanting to exhaust a single pitcher if the game didn’t count, but it does...

For home field advantage in the World Fu*king Series!

This is beyond a joke.

Not to mention all the players nominated who were suddenly injured and/or didn’t participate.

Derek Jeter cited fatigue and didn’t play.

The Kalamazoo kid was tired so he gave it a miss.

In any event…

It boils down to this, the All-Star game is not a proper baseball game since the best players don’t play the entire game. It’s a suit-driven Frankenstein of a production that resembles Little League coaches trying to get everyone involved (so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings). If the game was taken seriously (like playing for home field advantage in the WS), it wouldn’t be organized and managed this way.

The NL won the 2011 ASG game 5-1, and on the strength of that victory, the ‘Wild Card’ St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) obtained home field advantage in the 2011 World Series.

The AL Champs that year were the Texas Rangers who had won the West compiling a 96-66 record. They had a 3-2 series lead when, instead of travelling home to close out the series and potentially win their first ever title (if the common sense approach to have the team with the better record host the World Series was in place), they had to go to St. Louis due to the design of Selig’s wretched All-Star Game ‘prize’.

During Game 6, The Rangers were one-strike away twice, in the bottom of the 9th, from baseball nirvana…

The Rangers lost the series in Game 7 and somehow, someway, I’m almost certain they would have realized a different fate if the games were played in Arlington.

Let’s just leave it like this, the better record over the course of the MLB regular season should always have home field advantage in the World Series.

If the teams have identical records, then look to see if there is a head-to-head record from any Interleague games that season between them.

If not, use the record compiled against common opponents.

IF all else fails and the above doesn’t settle anything, flip a coin.

Awarding home field advantage in the World Series on a quasi-exhibition game is simply ridiculous.

Cubs fans voting for starting players (Addison Russell & Dexter Fowler) that don’t deserve to be there statistically, is also tragically comical in 2016.

You’re hindering you’re chances by selecting inferior players from your team under the current format, to try and obtain home field advantage?!

It’s a sneaky Catch-22.

Did you know that the ENTIRE 2016 Chicago Cubs infield is starting at the 2016 MLB All-Star game?

Dude…

There is something wrong with your system.

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MLB.COM

People can vote on-line up to 35 times each per account?! <cue the laugh track>

This seems like an SNL sketch with Phil Hartman playing the commissioner.

Let’s go back to handing out ballots in ballparks listing players who actually deserve All-Star recognition, to bring some validity back into the process.

Kicking it old school without the interweb internet.

And for the love of common-sense decision making…

Mr. Commissioner, PLEASE eliminate this World Series home field prize from the All-Star game.

You’re ruining it for everybody.

Especially Texas.

phantomwear

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Follow author: @Phil_Jones2020

 

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