Justin Lovell. Sports Editor
In July 2002, an event took place that forever changed the face of baseball: the All-Star game. Normally this event is just a great summer spectacle that fans and players both get to enjoy, however in 2002, that all changed. After both sides ran out of pitchers to use, MLB called the game after the 11th inning. The problem was that the game resulted in a tie, to the disappointment of fans. Following fan-lead outrage, MLB vowed to make sure this didn’t happen again. They did this by implementing a decision that has changed MLB forever; the all-star game now decides who, in the World Series that upcoming year, will have home field advantage. An example of this would be if next year, the AL wins the all-star game, regardless of record, the AL team that makes the World Series will have home field advantage.
Since first being implemented during the 2003 season, the AL went on to win the all-star games from 2003-2009 until the NL was finally able to break through and have now won the past three. However, because of this rule, two World Series were affected particularly and with “What If,” we are able to go back and look at what could have been instead.
In 2004, the AL won the all-star game, meaning they got the home field advantage. In the 2004 World Series, the Boston Red Sox (98-64) hosted the St. Louis Cardinals (105-57). Even though the Cardinals had the superior record, the Red Sox still hosted the series, which to me isn’t fair. Teams play their butts off every day so they can achieve the best record possible so that when it becomes playoff time, they can receive the perks of their work. Except for the Cardinals, there were no rewards to be had.
The Red Sox went on to win the series 4-0 and win their first World Series in 86 years. Now I don’t think the Cardinals would have won the series regardless of home field advantage or not, the Sox were coming into the series with more confidence than any team in baseball history, following their four game comeback in the ALCS against the New York Yankees, but the fact remains that St. Louis had a better regular season and should have been rewarded for it.
The second example to me is a much better example of why home field should not be decided by an all-star game. Just two years ago, the 2011 World Series showed how ridiculous and ludicrous the rule is. The NL won the all-star game that season, so the St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) hosted the Texas Rangers (96-66). The Cardinals, unlike in 2004, were the benefactors of the World Series rule, as they went on to win the series in seven games. For anyone who watched this series, the Rangers were clearly the better team as their record showed; they were just unlucky at many points which lead to their loss.
The reason that the rule really screwed them over came in Games 6 and 7, which were played in St. Louis. In Game 6, the Rangers were one strike away from winning the series, but couldn’t close it out. The question is what if they had been at home, like they should have been based on their record. Perhaps then they could have closed the game out. As history shows, the Cardinals came back numerous times in Game 6 and then won easily in Game 7 to take the series but Rangers and baseball fans are left to wonder what might have been had the All-Star game not ended in a tie back all those years ago. One thing that is certain though, MLB was never the same again.