Ever since the infamous All-Star Game tie in Milwaukee in 2002, the winner has had home field advantage in the World Series. Previously, the leagues alternated home field advantage. While I admit that having the game end in a tie is terrible, the answer is not to arbitrarily award home field advantage to the victor of an exhibition game. It hasn’t made sense for over a decade now, yet Commissioner Bud Selig remains defiant to calls for the policy to be revoked. Hopefully, the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis will be the final Midsummer Classic with such a ridiculous rule attached to it.
The All-Star Game is the one of the most perfect moments in sports. There is no other sport playing that day vying for fans and attention. The game comes at the height of the season when baseball is about get serious about the trading deadline and pennant races. Of all the major sports, the MLB All-Star Game is the one closest to perfection because both the fans and players care about the game itself. One can easily come up with a dozen of their favorite ASG moments over the decades, from Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse, to Reggie Jackson‘s moon shot in Detroit, to Pedro Martinez striking out five of the first six batters, to Mariano Rivera‘s entrance last season. Try and come up with a memorable Pro Bowl, or NBA or NHL All Star game moment. You can’t.
The All-Star Game format further shows how ridiculous assigning home field advantage to the victor is. Generally, the starters will play about three or four innings and have an at bat or two before the substitutions begin. Managers generally like to play everyone on the team like it is a little league game, and not the determining factor for home field advantage in the World Series. At the very least, the managers are encouraged to make sure that every team is represented in the game. Suddenly, home field advantage is not being settled by Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez or Mike Trout or Giancarlo Stanton but by Glen Perkins or Pat Neshek or Josh Harrison. Nothing against Perkins, Neshek or Harrison, but they are certainly not the players who should be decide where Game 7 of the World Series should be played.
Assigning home field advantage to the victor of the All-Star Game was gross overreaction to the debacle in Milwaukee. It has not made the players play harder or the game more special. It has not increased TV viewership, ratings have been in a general decline since the 1990s. It has increased the number of relievers and multi-position players selected for the game, designed to manage the game more realistic and by extension reduced the number of true All-Stars selected. It has caused more harm than good and should be abolished. The All-Star Game doesn’t need these types of gimmicks. This is a case of fixing something that wasn’t broken. Fortunately, however, it is a mistake that can and should be corrected before the 2015 game in Cincinnati.