MLB ASG: Is Home-Field Advantage in the WS Such a Bad Idea?

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 13, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 11:  A bride and groom pose for a photo outside of Busch Stadium ahead of the 2009 MLB All-Star Game on July 11, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

After witnessing one of the oddest sights in all of sports in 2002—a baseball game ending in a tie—MLB Commissioner Bud Selig elected to make a change to the Mid-Summer Classic.

From 2003 onward, the winning league in the MLB All-Star Game would get home-field advantage for their World Series representative come October.

However, the decision to award home-field advantage to the victor of the ASG has been met mostly with criticism.

The majority of fans feel as if the team with the best record should receive home-field advantage and others believe that division winners should get home-field if they face a Wild Card team.

Now, clearly the most fair way to decide home-field advantage would be to give it to the team with the better regular season record.

There really isn't any denying that fact.

However, is having a single extra home game in the World Series that much of an "advantage"?

When we throw out the infamous ASG tie in Milwaukee in 2002, the American League has won 11 straight times.

Therefore, since Bud Selig instituted the rule, the American League has had home-field advantage each and every time.

Well, if home-field advantage is so important, then the American League representative must have won the last six World Series, right?

No. In six years, there is an even split.

Three NL teams: Marlins, Cardinals, Phillies

Three AL teams: two pairs of Sox, one was worn twice

So if it is seemingly just as easy to become "World" Series Champions without home-field, then why are there fans complaining about this topic every single year?

It is almost like an annual feud between baseball fans who fail to realize that it is not that big of a deal.

But once the calendar flips over to July, sports talk shows around the country are full of callers complaining over Bud Selig's "This Time It Counts" slogan for the ASG.

I just don't see why the rule is so egregious. If you are a fan of an American League team, then you should love this rule. It gives your team an advantage if they make a run to the World Series.

However, coincidentally, two of the three National League World Series Champs over the last six years won their fourth and final game inside their home park.

Hence, National League fans can't argue that they don't get to see their teams celebrate because their league's All-Star team isn't any good.

So what is so bad about giving home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league in the ASG?

There really isn't anything wrong with it because the best team in baseball is going to win the World Series regardless of whether or not they have one extra home game in the final series.

But there is this assumption that having one extra game at home is this huge advantage.

Case in point, why not have that one extra game decided by the final score in the ASG?

The one extra game is insignificant enough that it doesn't diminish the losing league's ability to win the World Series but it also makes people want to tune into the game.

I mean, let's think about this realistically: Manny Ramirez often doesn't try during games that do count.

Why would he try during a game that doesn't count? Thankfully he wasn't voted in by the fans because who wants to watch Manny flop around in left-field in a game that doesn't matter?

Baseball fans need to face the facts: The ASG was losing its muster before this rule was put in place.

Back in the good ol' days with Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson, players cared who won the ASG because they would have bragging rights against the other league.

However, nowadays, with players not wanting to risk injury and not really giving a rat's a** about who wins the game, a change was needed.

The once glorified MLB All-Star Game was becoming almost as insignificant as the Pro Bowl.

In the NFL, the goal is to make the Pro Bowl, not to play in it. And that was how the MLB ASG was starting to become, a game that no longer mattered.

But now, with there being something to play for, the All-Star players actually want to be the reason that their league won the game. With that being the case, fans actually want to watch again.

Just ask yourself this question: If Tuesday night's game was an exhibition would you actually watch?

The majority of fans probably would find something better to do, and how can you blame them? In reality, baseball isn't the most fast-paced, exciting sport in the world and even a game with the league's best players can be incredibly boring.

If the ASG were still an exhibition, it would be no more exciting than it would be for a Boston Red Sox fan to watch a regular season game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals.

But with the ASG counting for something, fans around the league were pushing for their players to reach the game.

As a San Francisco Giants fan myself, we had a huge campaign to send the "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval to the ASG as the final vote winner.

The campaign ended up short as Victorino won the final spot but the only reason I voted 30-plus odd times for Sandoval was because in my opinion, he offered more to the National League roster than Victorino did.

Sandoval hits for average, power, and can play third, first, and catch if necessary. His abilities are nearly endless and his presence on the roster would be a huge boost.

However, despite being a huge "Panda" fan, I certainly wouldn't have voted as often as I did if the ASG were just an exhibition.

The only way the exhibition could work is if the opposing pitchers and hitters decided before hand which at-bats would be strikeouts and which would be home-runs.

But since the players who would end up still participating in an exhibition would most likely be players who care about game's integrity, the pitchers would then try their best to get every hitter out.

Therefore, instead of entertaining strikeouts and home runs, we would probably get a tremendous amount of come-backers, pop-ups, sac-flies, and in-field hits.

With baseball, the exhibition just doesn't work. The only reason hockey fans watch the NHL ASG is because the defencemen don't actually play any defense. Instead, they allow the highly skilled forwards to either A) score a highlight reel goal or B) get robbed by a ridiculous save by the goalie.

Surprise, surprise, fans enjoy highlight reel goals and ridiculous saves. Wow, isn't that a shocker?

Baseball fans typically watch the games of their favorite team and don't watch other games until the playoffs and it is simply because they have no connection to teams in other games.

With the ASG as an exhibition, it would be no different than just another random MLB game between teams that fans don't really care about.

As a Giants fan, if the ASG were just an exhibition, I wouldn't want Lincecum anywhere near the mound. Why risk injury?

Fans typically don't even watch/show up to the park during Spring Training games even though they would be watching their favorite team.

And the reason is because Spring Training games don't matter.

But with there currently being a benefit to my team (the Giants), who actually may get to the World Series this year (currently two-game lead in NL Wild Card race), I am definitely going to watch the 2009 MLB All-Star Game.

I am going to root for Lincecum and hopefully Sandoval (who may take over Matt Cain's roster spot) to lead the National League to victory.


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