Bud Selig

World Series 2011: National League Bias?

On Wednesday, October 19th, the World Series 2011 will commence in the National League’s home park… because the NL won the 2011 All-Star game.

Bud Selig

This state of affairs has existed since the 2003 post-season. Prior to that time, the MLB championships, referred to for over 100 years as the World Series, used an alternating system to determine home field advantage.

For example, one year the National League champion would host, the next year the American League would host, alternating each year. Since 1924, the games have been set up thusly, 2 at home, then a travel day, 3 on the road, a travel day, then 2 at home. It is a “best of 7” format, meaning the first winner of 4 games is the champion.

This system seemed to work well. Then, the 2002 All-Star Game, with plenty of short-sightedness to go around, ended in a tie. In our culture, that is not a preferred outcome, nor should it be. Instead of addressing the player selection process and management of pitchers, the Commissioner’s office, in their oft-questioned wisdom on this subject, boldly announced they had, in essence, fixed the problem. Henceforth, the winning All-Star game team (AL or NL) would host the World Series.

Now, if you don’t see the connection between the All-Star game dilemma and the World Series, don’t feel that you are by yourself. Many of the best minds in the game don’t get it either. Truth to tell , this Commissioner has done many good things for the sport, but this one matter remains a puzzle.

This new arrangement is inherently unfair. For example, I’m certain that the Texas Rangers Baseball club is thrilled about being the first AL champion to repeat in a decade, only to have to go on the road to start both World Series. Ranger fans have already pointed out that their star clutch hitter, Michael Young, was passed over in 2010 for the All-Star squad, in favor of a player added from the manager’s own team. (Of course, we all remember the separate issue of MLB reporting that Boston’s Adrian Beltre in 2010 was injured and would not play, thereby leading AL All-Star Manager Joe Girardi to believe the coast was clear to add Michael Young to the squad, which selection he announced at a press conference. But, that is another story.) Young, say the fans, batted in the key runs in 2 of the recent All-Star contests (prior to 2010).

MLB.com -- World Series Overview

Would he have made a difference in the outcome of the 2010 edition? Would, therefore, the Rangers have had home field advantage in the 2010 World Series? I guess we’ll never know.

The Commissioner’s office apparently believes that even the many players on each All-Star squad whose teams have virtually no chance of making the play-offs will be motivated by this “home field advantage” factor. No solid evidence would indicate this to be true. There have been additional inferences from the Commissioner’s office regarding this motivation — or that– that supposedly justifies this inexplicable method for determining home field advantage for the World Series. We know just about as much on the subject now as when the Commissioner’s office first made their announcement.

Oh, well…

  • Anonymous

    The Giants were the only NL team to benefit from the home field advantage, winning the first two games of the 2010 series with the Rangers. If the Rangers had home field advantage last year, perhaps the outcome would have been different. The LA Times seems to disagree though:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/21/sports/la-sp-home-field-advantage-20110722

    • http://fromdeeprightfield.com/ Paul Gillespie

      It is true that baseball has less of a home field advantage than the other major sports, but a home field advantage does exist. And, it is important.

  • Yankfan52

    One might assume that the all-star game home field effect was borne of an effort to add value to the all-star game, which, in many sports, seems to be regarded as meaningless.  My view is that baseball’s all-star venue can stand on its own merit and needs no such “effect”.  An all-star game, in fact, should remain disconnected from the ongoing league outcomes, and, in baseball at least, provides a rich source of entertainment and celebration all its own.

    • http://fromdeeprightfield.com/ Paul Gillespie

      I agree 100%. Baseball’s All-Star Classic does indeed stand on its own and should not be connected to the World Series.

  • T. Tsujita

    This posting makes good sense.  And while we are at it, let’s also do away with the 3-of-5 series. This is too short to truly determine the better team. Since most teams have 4 or 5 front-line pitchers (some teams used 6 this season), it is only fair to have enough games that all 4 or 5 have a chance to start a game. That cannot happen, if a series goes only 3 games. Thus, a weak team with, say, two solid starters, might be able to win a short series. When the pitcher is different, everything changes. So only a 4-of-7 series can determine the truly superior team. Let’s consign the 3-of-5 series to the junk heap of failed ideas.

  • T. Tsujita

    It is sheer foolishness to assign home-field advantage, based on who
    wins the All-Star Game. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a
    sound baseball reason.

  • Iida

    It is sheer foolishness to assign home-field advantage, based on who wins the All-Star Game. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a sound baseball reason. 

  • T. Tsujita

    This posting makes good sense.  And while we are at it, let’s also do
    away with the 3-of-5 series. This is too short to truly determine the
    better team. Since most teams have 4 or 5 front-line pitchers (some
    teams used 6 this season), it is only fair to have enough games that all
    4 or 5 have a chance to start a game. That cannot happen, if a series
    goes only 3 games. Thus, a weak team with, say, two solid starters,
    might be able to win a short series. When the pitcher is different,
    everything changes. So only a 4-of-7 series can determine the truly
    superior team. Let’s consign the 3-of-5 series to the junk heap of
    failed ideas.

  • T. Tsujita

    This posting makes good sense. And while we are at it, let’s also do
    away with the 3-of-5 series. This is too short to truly determine the
    better team. Since most teams have 4 or 5 front-line pitchers (some
    teams used 6 this season), it is only fair to have enough games that all 4 or 5 have a chance to start a game. That cannot happen, if a series
    goes only 3 games. Thus, a weak team with, say, two solid starters,
    might be able to win a short series. When the pitcher is different,
    everything changes. So only a 4-of-7 series can determine the truly superior team. Let’s consign the 3-of-5 series to the junk heap of
    failed ideas.

    • Iida

      Sound logic here.

    • Yankfan52

      Amen!!

      • http://fromdeeprightfield.com/ Paul Gillespie

        You are 100% correct! Push the season back to 154 games and change all the play-off series to 4 out of 7. Excellent comments!

    • CubsForever31

      I agree.  All play-off series should be 4 out of 7, and I would add that we should do away with the designated hitter rule for all games, in the postseason and the regular season, with only one exception: the All-Star game, which should be its own separate game for the fans and have nothing to do with home-field advantage.

  • CLUTCH

    I agree totally with this article, it only makes sense, keep the great posts coming and Andre Dawson for life.

    • http://fromdeeprightfield.com/ Paul Gillespie

      Great reference to Andre Dawson, one of the great right fielders ever.