After 11 innings of play, commissioner Bud Selig ended the exhibition in a 7-7 tie. As is customary, each team had used the majority of their players as pinch hitters or relievers, and as a result, there was nobody left to play.
As expected, fans weren’t exactly pleased and the league had to respond. Their response, though, sparked far more controversy than the tie game itself, as a year later in 2003, Selig introduced the caveat to the Midsummer Classic: that its winner would receive home-field advantage in the World Series.
The response has been mixed. There’s even a Facebook group entitled “All Star Game Shouldn’t Decide Home Field Advantage for the World Series!!!” It has a few but proud 80 members.
While the AL is only 4-3 in the seven World Series matchups since the rules change, it has had home-field advantage in all of them. In fact, the last time the NL won the All-Star Game, "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls had just hit No. 1 in the UK, and hadn’t even been released in America yet.
Why does the AL always win? There are a few logical explanations. The average AL payroll is consistently greater than those in the NL, and AL teams structure their rosters to include a designated hitter, creating more potent offenses than those seen in the senior circuit. As a result, the AL doesn’t just dominate the All-Star Game, they also generally clean up in interleague play as well.
But even if the NL won half of the time, or always won, why should an exhibition game, in which players are clearly going just half-tilt, have such significance?
The initial reason was appeasement because of the 2002 debacle, and such significant implications can only boost its ratings. But are either of these reasons good enough?
Still, how else would you determine home field advantage in the World Series?
The honor simply alternated prior to 2003, but other options exist. The NBA grants the team with the best record the home-court edge in the NBA Finals, so why not in the MLB? If Selig wants to use an original twist, then why couldn’t the overall interleague record be used to determine which league gets home field? But that means opening up the can of worms that is interleague play.
So, should the All-Star Game determine home field advantage in the World Series?
Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN’s Red Sox GameDay Live or Red Sox Final.
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