As the MLB All-Star Game beckons, there is one thing about this year’s game that is refreshing: home field advantage in the World Series is no longer at stake.
Yes, my team (the Red Sox) benefited from this a couple of times, but tying the two things together was frankly a dumb move.
The first problem is that home field advantage in the World Series, like any other point in the playoffs, should be based on nothing more than the regular season records of the two teams that make it. In the 14 seasons in which the result of the All-Star game determined home field advantage, only three times did the team with the better record not have home field advantage, and in two of those three, the team with home field advantage won the World Series. Interestingly, in 2013, the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals had identical records; the Red Sox had home field advantage from the AL winning the All-Star Game, and won in six.
You might say we lucked out in going 3-for-14 in having a mismatch between the better record and home field advantage. That figure is barely above the Mendoza line.
There is simply no connection between the All-Star Game and the World Series. MLB tried to make one, and it was a very bad idea.
The second problem is the rationale for doing this in the first place, which was the 2002 All-Star Game ending in a tie. The idea was that doing this would prevent a tie, but anyone with even basic knowledge of baseball knows that this simply does not accomplish that. Lest anyone forget, the game went 11 innings before it was called; it wasn’t simply tied after nine innings.
In a game like this, which is an exhibition, you’re bound to run into this scenario sooner or later. You want to get every player into the game if possible, but doing so also means that if the game goes extra innings, you may be left with a reliever who doesn’t normally go more than an inning, or a starter on another team who you don’t want to use for too long whether he’s on your team or not. Managers are very good about respecting players on other teams in this event, so they don’t want to have a starter on another team throw several innings so that they will be unavailable a little longer coming out of the All-Star break.
In fact, when you consider the way the game is typically managed – wanting to get every player in as well as to win – it’s quite remarkable that this did not happen sooner than 2002.
Thankfully, this All-Star Game will mark the end of a bad idea.