Home Field Advantage: Incentive to Win the All-Star Game?

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By the Soxman

Bottom line: Even though it is dubbed an “exhibition,” Soxman loves the idea of players selected as “the best” or at least “most popular” to play in a game that actually means something.

What better incentive can you offer than home field advantage in the World Series?

Opponents of this “incentive” believe it could increase the risk of injury to a star player. 

A pitcher could be used longer than the “unwritten rules” of maximum pitch count (which are actually just little more than a side throwing session that a player would have in between starts).  An injury to any star could hurt a team’s chances of making the play-offs.
 
I prefer accepting this risk rather than seeing the pompous, over-paid player declining an all-star invite all together; or the player who develops a “mystery injury” and skips the game after receiving their bonus for making the team.  Worse, the player who plays one inning, showers, and leaves the ballpark before the game is even over. We have seen the examples of the above too many times in All-Star games past.  How do any of these situations resemble the honor of this selection?  Where is the passion and pride for a game that makes these stars incredibly wealthy? Ties in a major league baseball game just can’t happen.
 
At Fenway Park in Boston on July 31, 1961, the first tie in All-Star history occurred when the game was stopped after the 9th inning due to rain. The 1967 game lasted 15 innings. The 2002 All-Star Game, held in Milwaukee, ended in controversy in the 11th inning, when both teams ran out of substitute players available to pitch in relief. At that point, Commissioner Bud Selig declared the game a tie. The crowd booed and the media were highly critical of this unsatisfying conclusion. To provide additional incentive for victory, Major League Baseball reached an agreement with the players union to award home-field advantage for the World Series to the league that won the All-Star Game.
 Now some fans and members of the media are complaining that this is not fair.  Well, you can’t have it both ways.

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Many of these same arguments have been recycled since the All-Star game first began.  It’s hard to balance passionate play with the unwritten rules of an exhibition. Just ask Ray Fosse.  He was the American League catcher on July 14, 1970 at then-newly minted Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.  Fosse was a 23-year old catcher destined for a great career with a .270 average and 14 homers at the all-star break. In a hard-nosed play at the plate, Pete Rose plowed him over to give the National League a dramatic 5-4 victory.  It also resulted in a career-limiting shoulder injury to Fosse.  While Fosse played 9 more seasons and won two World Series rings with the A’s, he was never the same.


 
In ANY other game, Rose would have been considered a hero.  Because it was an exhibition, several fans and members of the media heavily criticized Rose for injuring a fellow teammate in a game that was just “supposed to be fun.” Baseball is fun, but for players it is also a job.  Being selected to the All-Star team is an honor.  It was created with the purpose of having meaning.  Awarding home field advantage to the winning team provides meaning and a purpose, especially for those players who don’t understand what an honor their selection is.

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Comments

  1. I still say it is a crime that Dye or at least one Sox pitcher did not get in. Marmol makes it as a reserve for Wood? That’s just nutty.

  2. Bleeding Cheese says

    The tie at Miller Park was a joke! I was there and you could tell MLB did not know what to do. Another great article. Very interesting site and its free info! Soxman, have you heard any rumors about the Brewrs getting more arms for the bullpen?

  3. Bleeding Cheese? That name sounds horrible until I really think about its meaning. Thanks for the props on the article. To answer your question on the Brewers, they have been linked to Brian Fuentes and even Trevor Hoffman in recent weeks and are not afraid to strike a deal if they think they can solidify the club. i expect them to be active as the trade deadline approaches, but CC was their big piece. Good luck to the Brewers. I hope Ryan Braun wins the HR contest tonight.

  4. paulmbanks says

    I remember watching that game in ’02 with my girlfriend at the time thinking this was the lamest All-Star game ever. And yet it’s the only “Midsummer Classic” that I can recall.

  5. Bleeding Cheese says

    Thanks guys and thank you Soxman for the great writing! I did not hear any rumors on Fuentes. That would be awesome! You are like the Peter Gammons of the web.

  6. The Peter Gammons of the Web? While I’m not nearly that old, I take you comment as a huge compliment. Gammons knows baseball that’s for sure!

    High Five!

    SM

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