Time To Re-Think The Process


Bud Selig and the powers that be in MLB have a problem, a big problem. The problem is that almost nobody likes the idea of using the All-Star Game to determine home field advantage in the World Series. What MLB didn’t foresee when this decision was made was a Wild Card team making an incredible run at the end of the season and getting home field over a team with a superior record. The Cardinals got hot at the right time last year, and it may not have changed anything if Texas were to have been awarded home field, but for Ranger fans, it feels like a penalty was handed down. 
MLB wants the All-Star Game to “mean something.” After the advent of Interleague play, the All-Star Game lost a little luster in the eyes of the fans. Only once per season did we have a chance to see the NL’s top pitcher face the AL’s top batters, and vice versa. Now with the current format of Interleague play, we see that several times per season, which makes the occurrence less special. While some people do like Interleague play and some don’t, that fact is that it takes a little away from the All-Star Game.

Another problem arose from the 2002 version of the All-Star Game in Milwaukee when AL manager Joe Torre and NL Manager Bob Brenly didn’t hold back any pitchers and the game was declared a 7-7 tie after 11 innings by Mr. Selig. So naturally, the solution was to come up with a plan so that this didn’t happen again, and the “home field advantage rule” was born the very next season. Indeed the ruling stemmed from many players deciding not to participate in the game, along with the fiasco that was the tie in Milwaukee.

There have been many solutions thrown out there over the past few years. One is to give the team with the best record home field for the World Series. That is probably the best option on the table, and the easiest. The problem with this is that it takes the All-Star Game off of the table as far as the idea of it meaning anything for the World Series, or meaning anything at all, for that matter, except league pride. With free agency, and many moves being made at each year’s trade deadline, I’m not sure there is league pride any longer.

Many have also suggested that Interleague play be abandoned, and that will get the players back involved and make the game more special. That, beginning in 2013 is not an option, as the Houston Astros move to the AL West and an Interleague series will be played at all times throughout the season, with each league having 15 teams.

There have also been radical ideas tossed around as well, such as using the All-Star Game, the Futures Game and some sort of combination of Interleague records and/or the Home Run Derby, to determine home field in a best of three, winner take all format. Very radical indeed, and it could bring more attention to the All-Star Game and all of the festivities, but using minor leaguers and home run hitters to decide home field is a worse idea that what we currently have.

I don’t have a solution to the home field thing. If you came here hoping for one I apologize. However, I do have some advice to MLB. I think it’s time that they stop knee jerking to every problem that arises in the game. Maybe it’s time to bring in a group of consultants: media, business, merchandising, etc., and get a game plan together on how to solve these problems. MLB and its executives do a lot of things right, and they have very smart people in the offices up there, but, they are all baseball guys. From Paul Beeston down to Bob Watson, they either played or were team execs at one time. MLB has the commissioner’s office version of a “Moneyball” situation where the thinking is archaic and someone needs to go and shake it up. It’s time to re-think the process.

Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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