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In the Small Print: Ties
2003-01-10 10:49
by Mike Carminati

In the Small Print: Ties Give The Brewers Homefield

ESPN reports that commissioner Bud is working on a plan to have the league that wins the All-Star game have homefield advantage in the World Series. This is something that the Power That Be have been kicking around for the last couple of years.

The cynic in me (no, me?) is shouting out, among the lewd comments, things like:

- What about "fixing" the game procedures as he promised to ensure that the game does not end in a tie like last year? (Personally, I don't care-It's just an exhibition. But he did promise. And what about Scarecrow's brain?)

- Here's a scenario: The game is tied in the bottom of the ninth and Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff hits a walk-off home run to win the game off of Milwaukee's Mike DeJean (now that's excitement). Now assuming that the game is not being played in a parallel universe, the teams these players represent will get no closer to the Series than watching it from the comforts of their own homes, er, clubhouses. Why should what they do affect the Yankees and NL team du jour three months later? No players from these two teams may even be involved in the game when the victor is determined.

- Here's another scenario: Dusty Baker is the NL manager and his Cubs are 12 games back at the break (remember Cub fans, this is just an example) and Mike Scioscia is the AL manager and his Angels are in the middle of neck-and-neck pennant race for the AL West. Doesn't Scioscia suddenly have a great deal more incentive to win the game than does Baker? In most games, this wouldn't matter very much since most professionals should still be able to compete at a high level. But suppose that Baker is using the dreck he is saddled with in order to ensure that all 16 NL teams get a representative in the game while Scioscia sticks with key players for most of the game?

- Lastly and most importantly, the game has become more and more marginalized as baseball has continued to employ its unbalanced interleague play schedule. If Bud wants to infuse the game with more excitement, rid the schedule of regular matchups between the AL and NL stars. When I was a kid Tom Seaver only faced Reggie Jackson if their teams made it to the Series. Now, their baseball descendents meet so often we can discuss on a regular which ones should or should not be throwing at each other and why.

So that's what the cynic in me thinks. But the holistic, centered, daily affirmed me is still basking in this offseason without the threat of folding teams or of losing the season to a players' strike. If this is the worst news Bud's twisted visage presents us with this offseason, it's a blessing. Let Bud tinker with the game a bit more if it makes him happy. Will it really matter one way or the other come Series time? No, homefield was always arbitrary anyway. If it prevents him from increasing ball boys' minimum age to 35, it's worth it.

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