The American League should not have won the right to home field advantage in the World Series last night. However, neither should the National League had they been able to mount a comeback. The All-Star Game is about the fans, players, and events that surround the longest break in the baseball season.
Managers Mike Matheny and John Farrell had different scenarios in mind. Matheny and the Cardinals are in second place and only a game behind the Brewers in the NL Central. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East and 9.5 games out of first. Things can change in the AL East, but for now Boston is in the cellar.
This means that you have a manager (Matheny) who’s team has a great shot at making the post season and would like to have the security of home field advantage should they advance to the World Series again. Meanwhile, you have the American League skipper, Farrell, who said he wanted to get as many players into the game. I’m sure Farrell wants to win as well, but since his team has a tough uphill battle to even make the playoffs, the World Series home field advantage is not in the back of his mind as he is making roster adjustments during the game.
The All-Star Game itself has most of the best players in baseball – at the current moment. Guys should be rewarded for the year they are having, whether it is over the course of a career or a once-in-a-lifetime season. Then there should be players like Derek Jeter who have earned the respect and the right to be in an All-Star Game despite not having the best numbers. There really were not other American League shortstops who had numbers impressive enough to derail Jeter from starting in this game.
Here is where something needs to be done: the best players aren’t playing when something as big as home field advantage in the World Series is on the line. In the 9th inning of the game, Miguel Montero, Josh Harrison, and Charlie Blackmon got at-bats. They were all substitutions. I am glad they made the All-Star team, but I don’t want to see them hitting in the last inning of a two-run ball game when you have Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, and Andrew McCutchen whom were the starters.
Lucroy was 2-2 with two doubles and two RBI. Gomez struck out once but is more dangerous than Harrison at this point. McCutchen was 1-3 and can fly around the bases. The best players were not in the game, yet Major League Baseball wants to make the game impact the World Series. Not to mention that every team has to be represented in the All-Star Game; that is a whole separate argument.
If the All-Star Game needs some extra flare, then add another skills competition outside of the Home Run Derby. The new Home Run Derby format was terrible, and if they keep it that they expect this fan to probably not watch the whole thing next year. Baseball puts on the best All-Star game of any of the major sports. The NFL has a reputation of players not playing hard in the Pro Bowl. The NBA is an all-offensive showcase that is reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters. I honestly don’t know enough about the NHL game except that I remember seeing very high goal totals each year. The American League vs National League is fun, but there could be some skills challenge like the NBA does as well.
American League benefits from game implications
Major League Baseball wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to drag bunt while still hitting a home run at the same time. That can’t happen when you don’t have the best players, or those even involved in pennant and wild card races, in the game the entire time. So here are a few solutions for Bud Selig to implement:
- Teams with losing records can’t have players in the game.
If a team has a losing record at the All-Star break, then whoever is voted on to the team is not allowed to play in the game. Their teams are not in contention for the playoffs and they should not be allowed to impact those that are.
- Tell managers to manage like they would a real game.
Mangers don’t put in substitutes just because they want to get everybody in the game. Not unless it’s the All-Star Game. Let the starters play up until the manager feels a change needs to be made. I don’t think fans would have a problem seeing Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera get four or five at-bats for the American League instead of two.
- Get rid of the home field advantage implication.
This is the only real viable solution – the first two were simply there because this third option seems to not be happening any time soon. While there has been ridicule about home field advantage for the winner, there has not been enough to warrant a reason to change anything. In the end, two good teams will play in the World Series, but Selig needs something to get casual fans to be excited about to watch the game. The entire game.
Will there be a change to the determination of home field advantage in the World Series? It doesn’t look like it. The All-Star Game is still the way it is decided. Get over it. Enjoy the All-Star Game for what it’s worth, which is seeing the best players from the National League and American League compete and some sentimental value thrown in (Jeter). Only one team’s fans will be complaining in October that they should have home field advantage. Unless you’re Johnny Cueto it really shouldn’t matter.