In 2002, baseball’s all-star game ended in a tie, which created a bit of tizzy in the sport, which is puzzling because it’s an exhibition that not a whole lot of people watch.
Why should it matter who wins, loses or ties, as long as the stars go out, hit a few balls, throw a few pitches and field a few grounders?
But for some reason, it mattered in 2002, which led to a change that was supposed to put some gas into the game. Beginning in 2003, the league that won the game would have home-field advantage in the World Series. That league would host the first two games of the best-of-seven Series, then go on the road for three, then host for the final two.
That doesn’t seem all that important, does it? It’s just one more home game than the other side, and how often does a World Series go seven games? And by the time you get to the seventh game, will it really, really matter — as in deciding-the-Series matter — who is at home?
After all, that first year, the American League won the All-Star Game, but the National League’s Marlins beat the New York Yankees to win the World Series. The Marlins won two of three Series games at Yankee Stadium, including the clinching Game 6.
But in the 10 years since, the winning league also won the World Series eight times. The National League’s Cardinals in 2006 and Phillies in 2008 are the only ones to win without that advantage, although both won in five games and wound up playing more games at home (three) than the team that was supposed to have home-field advantage (two).
We’ve had only one seven-game World Series since the All-Star home-field rule. In 2011, St. Louis beat Texas, winning Game 6 and 7 at home. That rule seemed to matter a whole lot that year.
In the end, maybe it really does matter who has home-field advantage in the World Series. Maybe we shouldn’t have the All-Star Game decide the issue. Does that factor make the game any more watchable for the casual fan?