Bud Selig makes All-Star Game matter


Next week marks the mid-point of the major league baseball season, to be celebrated on Tuesday with the 80th annual All-Star Game in all its regalia.


Traditionally, baseball’s All-Star Game was strictly an exhibition game between the most popular athletes the American and National League had to offer.  That all changed in 2002 when the All-Star Game was declared a 7-7 draw after 11 innings.  Fans went into an uproar, asking how such a disaster could come to pass.  Commissioner Bud Selig took the brunt of the blame. 

That off-season, Selig decided to shake things up a bit.  The Commissioner proposed that the outcome of the All-Star Game (from here on out, there would be an outcome) would determine home-field advantage in the World Series.  The proposal was discussed in the 2002-2003 off-season and team owners voted unanimously to approve Selig’s suggestion.

OWNERS TOPIXSelig has received considerable heat for this controversial change to the Midsummer classic.  Baseball purists continue to question why an exhibition game, played between players who might not play in the post-season, and managed by managers who will not manage in the post-season, should have any bearing on who gets an extra, October home game.

Consider the alternative, however.

Before 2003, home field advantage in the World Series was assigned arbitrarily by year and NOT by the team with the best overall record.  While home field advantage in the wild-card rounds and the League Championship Series is rewarded by merit to teams with the best records, prior to 2003, the extra World Series home game alternated by year, with the American League team getting the first two (and last two, if necessary) home games in even-numbered years and the National League awarded the extra game in odd-numbered years.  Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

While you might think home field advantage in baseball isn’t as important as in other sports, think again.  From 1990 through 2002, before the rule change, the team with home-field advantage won the World Series nine out of twelve times, with the only exceptions being the ’99 Yankees, the ’92 Blue Jays, and the ’90 Reds.  Over that same period, the team with the better regular season record only had home-field advantage in the World Series FOUR TIMES (’02 Angels, ’98 Yankees, ’97 Marlins, ’91 Twins).  All four of those teams were crowned champions, meaning EIGHT times during that period, teams that held a better regular season record than their opponent did NOT receive home-field privileges in the World Series.

In 2001, the Diamondbacks had a worse regular season record than the Yankees yet received home field advantage because of the alternating years rule.  Arizona won that World Series in a seventh game in their home stadium.  In 1999, the Atlanta Braves had a better regular season record than the New York Yankees, yet didn’t have home field advantage to show for it.  In 1992, the Atlanta Braves won more games than the Blue Jays, yet Toronto was awarded home field advantage simply because it was the American League’s year.  Toronto also won that World Series.

Since Selig changed the rule in 2003, the outcome of the All-Star Game has had little bearing on who won the World Series.  While the American League has won the past six All-Star Games, National League teams have actually won three of the last four pennants (’03 Marlins, ’06 Cardinals, ’08 Phillies).World Series Rays Phillies Baseball

The argument that the All-Star Game should not affect the post-season does not hold water for it is clearly a dramatic improvement over the arbitrary and inequitable system that preceded it.

Selig’s intention by proposing this change was to add relevance to the All-Star Game.  In that respect, he succeeded.  The fact that the All-Star Game affects the post-season gives the contest new meaning.  Prior to that, the Commissioner was concerned players were taking the game lightly and not giving their best effort.  Clearly the decision has generated quite a bit of scuttlebutt.  It has probably affected how managers manage and players play out the contest.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Commissioner Selig deserves plenty of criticism for his tenure over major league baseball, but not for altering this rule.  As seen recently, it has had little, if any, bearing on the World Series to date, and until another rule change is proposed, it is a dramatic improvement over the system that existed beforehand.


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27 Replies to “Bud Selig makes All-Star Game matter”

  1. Chris

    The All Star Game matters in the ways that it ought to . And that’s about it. In terms of home-field advantage and what they make of it. I think it’s more about the performances of the teams in question at the given moment. Rather than the implications of the venue.

    As for Avery Johnson , he was always a good coach. The problem being is that the executive hierarchy there in Dallas was broken. Cuban and whoever is the GM there didn’t really know what direction they were going in. Merely spending big money on moderate talent doesn’t guarantee you a damn thing to begin with.

    As of now it’s really hard to assess the Mavericks as an organization. They’ve re-signed Jason Kidd as they had to. But in terms of real leadership on this team. Who’s it really coming from ?

    Johnson if what I hear is true ought to do well in Detroit. He’ll garner the players’ respect right of the bat . As he’s been there before and done it all.

    Alan Parkins

  2. Not sure, Al.

    For such a shrewd businessman, Mark Cuban is loyal to his people to a fault.

    Safe to say J Kidd will finish his career without a ring unless the Mavs somehow sign Wade or James in next year’s free agent free-for-all.

  3. Chris …

    There’s nothing at wrong with loyalty. But above all there ought to implicit trust in the capabilities to the people who you’ve got in your employ. As for Cuban and the goals of the Mavericks .It’s hard to see this alleged team win an NBA championship. All that’s been essentially assembled there is a group of players who’ve nothing in common in terms of being able to perform as a cohesive unit.

    They may well have come up trumps against the Spurs in the playoffs. But after that they essentially flamed out.
    They’re a really soft team !

    Alan Parkins

  4. Not a lot to add. You’ve covered it well. I still think that abusers of the PED rules should not be allowed to play in the All Star Game following suspension. I also fear that the All Star mgr could rag arm the pitcher of a competitor in their division to benefit his teams run for the title. Unlikely but possible.

    Nice work as always.

  5. The MLB All-Star game is so excruciatingly boring that I can’t believe Bud Selig would be so silly as to tie home field advantage to the winner of the all-star game. Ridiculous. Sure you can say the previous system was bad but replacing one bad system with another bad system doesn’t make sense.

    Do you really think any player on that field is playing harder because they want their league to have home field advantage in the World Series? If that was the case then why do they need 33 players on the roster? Why do the stars play 2-3 innings and then leave the game? Most of the stars will be on their private planes heading home before the final out is recorded. Why do pitchers pitch an inning or less? Why don’t managers of the contenders (first place teams) endorse using their players to the max instead of using them sparingly?

    The all-star game should not have any effect on the World Series. Heck, I don’t even understand why we have an all-star game anymore. There was a time before interleague play that it was interesting to see AL pitchers versus NL hitters and vice versa but with interleague play, we get to see that now quite a bit so the mystique is gone. When I was young I used to look forward to the all-star game. I wanted to see Bruce Sutter pitch to George Brett because unless the Cards and Royals played in the World Series, I’d never see that matchup. Nowadays, I can see that matchup on a random Wednesday night during interleague play.

    Now I do think they can save the all-star game. How about a “Dominican All-Star team” versus the rest of the world? It would be like a one-game World Baseball Classic and I think players would get fired up for that. I don’t think the players get fired up for the current game. Everybody wants to be an all-star but no one really wants to play in the game.

  6. Frank, I heard a great radio interview yesterday with Erik Karros and he confirmed your sentiments.

    He said, as a fan, that he wanted to see the big name players: ARod, Manny and the like. The game was always intended to be for the fans.

    Obviously not for the NL fans though as they seemingly haven’t won the All-Star game in like fifteen years.

  7. PD…. In Da’ House! Thanks for stopping by. I thought the piece was more informative than anything else. Like I said, it was an exercise in debate with BluegrassLady… but, you’re right.

    One right or wrong managerial decision in an exhibition game could affect the outcome of the World Series.

  8. Chris

    When it comes to the Mavs the lunatics did indeed take over the asylum. And none other than Cuban was the lead who brought it all to fruition. As allegedly insightful as he is as a businessman. He’s still got a hell of a lot to learn when it comes to running a professional sport’s franchise.

    Less we forget he’s still got to deal with the SEC and the Feds over that little incident of insider trading ?

    Alan Parkins

  9. Chris

    About the only thing I find desirable about the MLB All Star Game…it may well be the Home Run Derby. And that’s about it ! To those who it ought to mean the most to. Because of the asinine ardor of MLB the kids more often than not won’t get to see the game in its entirety. Not with the ever later start time to the event itself.

    Alan Parkins

  10. Al… had they allowed him to buy the Chicago Cubs, he would have assured them not winning a World Series.

    Oh wait, they already don’t do that.

    Have you ever seen those old black and white home run derby’s on television? ESPN needs to bring those back. Aaron, Mays, Frank Robinson. They were awesome!

  11. Chris

    That’d be a novel idea with regard to ESPN. About the only worthwhile thing to watch at times there is the cleavage of Linda Cohn’s breasts and Cindi Brunson’s long legs. But I digress.

    How Dumars and Avery Johnson were said to be at an impasse is beyond me. I thought that the two’d be of the same mindset when it came to the running and coaching of an NBA franchise. Now there’s talk of the Cavs’ assistant John Kuester or Celtics’ assistant Tom Thibodeau.

    As to the fate of the Cubs. Well now that they’ve been bought by Tom Ricketts (founder of TD Ameritrade .. discount trading house).It’ll be interesting to see whether or not he’ll be frugal or spend money to bring a World Series to Chicago. God knows the fans there can’t another century for another one ! As for Piniella I guess he’s got to be envious of Joe Maddon at this moment in time ?

    If you’ve got time check out the piece I’ve completed on the Pistons. I’ve provided a link to the piece below.

    The Dumbing Down Of A Franchise

    Alan Parkins

  12. They’re both guards, leaders and champions. It’s beyond me that they couldn’t work something out.

    It’s not as if Avery was a flash in the pan. He was a damn good coach.

    It’ll be interesting to see where Dumars looks next because there’s not all that much out there and his last experiment failed miserably.

  13. Chris …

    I don’t know what might’ve transpired . But it obviously led to an impass. Not that Johnson’ll really mind to begin with. As he’s still owed close to $8m by Cuban and the Mavericks. So it’s not as if he’s really got to get back to the game right away.

    More and more appears to be coming out concerning McNair’s death.
    The weapon used in his slaying was actually bought by Sahel Kazemi prior to the homicide from a private individual. And as recently as last Thursday she’d been stopped by the cops concerning a traffic violation.

    Whatever took place between her and McNair must’ve driven her over the edge.

    Had you read my piece on Serena’s win at Wimbledon ? And also included in that was Federer’s triumph as well.

    Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained

    Alan ….

  14. I doubt the All-Star game gets one extra fan to view it because of the home field B.S. tie-in. The fans watch to see the big names hit homers.

    Bud should have changed the rule and had the team with the best record get home field advantage in the playoffs. JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER REAL SPORT IN THE USA DOES!

    Now, I’ll tie in my plug…sportsreviewmagazine.com

    should be up and running this month. Sneak peek….


  15. Yeah, I haven’t been following all that much about the details of the McNair case. It’s just to depressing.

    I think it’s wrong, though, for his image to be tarnished, just because he had a girlfriend. He’s been taking a beating lately. Can’t we let this guy rest in peace?

  16. GH… those are two great points. a) fans watch the game to see the all-stars, not because the outcome will determine home field advantage and b) I’ll never for the life of me understand why the best record in the sport doesn’t earn home field.

    It doesn’t make any sense.

  17. Chris

    Such was the mindset of Selig at the time that he created a gimmick with what he thought the fans would find interesting. Initially it seemed to to work. But now it merely rewards either of the leagues a mere presence. It really isn’t all that advantageous to begin with.

    A series is usually won by the performances of the team over the course of the series and that of the play of the best team at the time.

    Hell look at how they use to decide the participants for the World Series before the wildcard system ? You had the best teams based on their records from the NL and AL just duke it out for the right to be called the World Series Champions.

    Here’s my take on the situation now fomenting inside the Blue Jays’ organization.

    Think Long And Hard You Fool ! Oh What It Is To Be The Blue Jays’ GM J P Ricciardi

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.

    Alan Parkins

  18. Chris

    Selig’s biggest concern at this juncture other than the steroid issues is the mere financial stability of the sport. They’ve got corporate sponsors seeking to bail on them at this juncture and the revenues of the game are on the decline. As is the attendance for the game right across the league. See my most recent piece and you’ll see where I’m going with this all. The declines of the two NY teams are particularly discouraging.

    Sooner or later the teams’ owners as well as the players will have to address the salary cap issue. There are those who feel that it’s not yet warranted. But when you’ve only got a handful of teams eking out a profit. Then that ought to tell you everything you need to know. MLB is so secretive that they’ll never let you know as to the profitability of the various franchises around the league. But they’re first ones to come cap in hand at the taxpayer’s expense to get public financing for their stadiums.

    Now if that’s not letting you know where their heart is then nothing ever will. The constituents in NY are on the hook for Bloomberg’s idiocy to begin with in issuing over $2bn in bonds for the building of the Mets and Yankees’ stadium. Nevermind the fact that both owners got exceedingly large tax breaks to begin with.

    Much like the BCS , MLB ought to have its anti-trust exemption status looked at once again. But this time no friggin’ lobbyists ought to be involved at any level. Let the blowhards in Congress try and figure it out. That’s if their minuscule brains are up to it ?

    Alan Parkins

  19. Chris

    The conspiracy theorists are already out there with regard to the McNair case. But ’til the autopsy is complete we can merely speculate as to what went on and why. But the clear indication is that Sahel Kazemi was the purchaser of the murder weapon.

    Now comes word that she was knockin’ boots with her ex as well with McNair ? Well she had to have hopped on board the gravy train that McNair was providing as it’d appear that it was profitable for all of the parties concerned.

    Alan Parkins

  20. Chris

    Who’s liable to come out on top should there be an allout bidding war for Halladay’s services from the Blue Jays ?

    Will it be the Red Sox , Yankees , Mets or some other team altogether ?
    Much of that however’ll be predicated upon which team is prepared to give up the most to land the pitcher. And at the same time the Jays’ GM J P Ricciardi has to like what he’s said to be getting in exchange for the player.

    Here’s my take on it all.

    Think Long And Hard You Fool Oh What It Is To Be Blue Jays’ GM J P Ricciardi ….

    Alan Parkins

    07/08/09 3:16pm

  21. Al… there’s no denying Selig’s move to make the All-Star Game matter was a direct reaction to the tie. It happened the year after and he wanted to be remembered for at least one positive move.

    I’m just not sure, as Han suggests, why baseball doesn’t tie the best regular season record into home field advantage just like every other sport does.

    With interleague play, tiebreakers can be easily resolved.

  22. Chris Humpherys aka Sportschump

    Thanks for chiming in on that piece on the Blue Jays. It’s going to be extremely interesting to see which teams’ll show interest in the Halladay sweepstakes.

    We all know for sure that Red Sox and Yankees’ll be part of the mix. If only to try and outdo each other or force a bidding war ‘tween the two . That being said whop’s ever in dire need of the player will eventually make their play one way or another.

    As for McNair’s assailant Sahel Kazemi. She most definitely had pyschological problems. She was under the impression apparently that McNair’d leave his wife start divorce proceeding and then eventually marry her.

    If anything McNair merely viewed her as an ‘FWFB’ ….friend with fringe benfits . If he’d possibly explained that to her to begin with. Then perhaps things wouldn’t taken such a tragic turn of events.

    Not a lot going here at work at present. Lounging around just vibin’ . The guys and gals I work alongside are a blast. But then at the same time they each have their work detailed and oriented ways about them. As have I up to a point.

    Dropped this piece on the Nuggets’ Chris Andersen. And when one considers what he’s been through. It’s great that he turned his life around and has been richly rewarded by the team.

    The Birdman Can Still Fly High In Denver But Can He And The Nuggets Join The Mile High Club ?

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.

    Alan Parkins 09/07/09 12:31pm

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