|Point/Counterpoint:Is the All Star Game Important Enough to Determine Home Field Advantage in World||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 19, 2008
The Current FormatÂ Adds Some Excitement to the Midsummer Classic
If you watched Mondayâ€™s All Star Game, you may have noticed something new: The players actually cared. Edinson Volquez looked despondent after allowing a two-run home run to Bostonâ€™s JD Drew in the eighth inning. American League manager Terry Francona was ecstatic after Justin Morneau scored to end the game. As National League manager Clint Hurdle said, all of the players were on the top step of the dugout the entire game.
The players were into this thing. They didnâ€™t leave after the third inning to catch the early flight home. They displayed intensity cheering for their teammates. Pitchers cared and hitters cared, too. Having home field advantage decided by this game isnâ€™t that bad of a thing.
Now, I know what youâ€™re thinking. â€śItâ€™s just an exhibition game. Why let it determine who plays four games at home in the World Series?â€ť Iâ€™ve got a question for you: What should we go to, if we got rid of the current plan? Should we go back to the previous system, which alternated which league receives home field advantage in the World Series according to what year it is? A slightly better idea would be to allow best record to determine who has home field advantage, but then again, no team in both leagues play the same schedule.
The current format also adds some excitement to the Midsummer Classic. This is a great exhibition of the leagueâ€™s stars. Letâ€™s put something on the line and make it interesting. Plenty of players skip the Pro Bowl, the NFLâ€™s version of the All Star Game, and if they show up, they only try to avoid injury. The NBA is nothing more than a slam dunk contest, as nobody actually plays defense. With the carrot, there is some motivation for players to try hard.
Mondayâ€™s intensity and excitement was for the good of the sport. Now, should we see guys pulling a Pete Rose and bowling over catchers? No. But we should see some good, exciting baseball. And thatâ€™s what we got Monday.
It's A Broken System
Itâ€™s a broken system that all but assures the AL of having the home field advantage every year - although the National leaguers came closer to winning the game this year than they have in over a decade.Â But the truth is simple - the AL has dominated the mid-season classic for more than a decade and likely will continue to do so since they have a larger pool of All-Stars to draw upon.
If you think thatâ€™s not the truth you better realize that only one NL team (the Mets) ranks in the top six in terms of payroll and that nine of the remaining 15 NL teams occupy the bottom half of the payroll chart.Â Â That leaves a lot of room for AL teams to buy top notch free agents as well as to develop their own.
But itâ€™s not just the free agents itâ€™s the overall attitude of the All-Star Game.Â This isnâ€™t professional baseball, this is a little league game where managers try to get everyone into the game and winning, if there is a winner, isnâ€™t everything.Â Even during the telecast the specter of another All-Star game tie was on the horizon.
This is a show, a show for the fans to build public relations.Â Managers donâ€™t play life or death baseball, there isnâ€™t the urgency to win or go home.Â Part of that is because for the managers the game may mean nothing.Â Ask yourself really how much the game mattered to Clint Hurdle when his Rockies are essentially dead in the water?Â Ask yourself how much the game mattered to Terry Francona, who had a maximum number of pitches he felt he could throw his last pitcher, before he had to look for other options?
The All-Star game is a gift to the fans, itâ€™s an exhibition game, and no exhibition game should determine something as important as home field advantage for the World Series.Â