You know what argument gets tiresome? This whole back and forth on how the All-Star Game decides home field advantage. Is it dumb? Yes, absolutely. The only people that don’t seem to think so happen to be the commissioner and FOX. Unfortunately, those are the people with the votes. But it still gets brought up year after year. Mike Golic this morning seemed be okay with it, though, mostly because it was better than just alternating. He still would rather see it based on record, though.
And you know what? I can’t argue with him at this point. I think I’ve made my opinion known on how bad an idea I think moving towards the conference model as baseball has been doing* for the past several seasons. Sure, at one point, it absolutely made more sense to simply alternate the games. The teams never faced each other in any capacity outside exhibition All-Star games, which truly counted for nothing more than pride. So it was impossible to determine who should get home field advantage. You couldn’t compare records because it came against totally different competition. And it truly was different competition, as it was pretty rare to see players cross leagues in those days.
*And probably ultimately done, at this point.
These days? Well, we have daily interleague play at this point. I fear the day is coming very soon because of that where we’re forced with the DH in both leagues. That may be the day I stop watching baseball, but that’s not the point here. Playoffs have expanded to include a second wild card, which also runs counter to everything baseball has meant and stood for over the last hundred-plus years. One game playoffs are not the baseball model. At this point, the only sensible thing baseball could do would be to start basing home field advantage in the World Series on the regular season record. Which, given the recent track record I’ve just laid out, is precisely why that will likely never happen.
I understand why the decision was made to make the All-Star Game “matter.” The tie in Milwaukee, in Bud Selig’s back yard, no less, was an embarrassment for all involved and was awful timing with all the steroid stuff coming out. Ratings were waning. The NFL’s dominance was truly starting to become understood. Baseball panicked. FOX panicked. This was the plan to save ratings and try to give baseball the gravitas it had always enjoyed prior to this point. It was a bad decision, and, unfortunately, it set the tone for almost all of baseball’s decisions afterwards.
I don’t understand why baseball has decided that it has to beat the NFL at every turn. I don’t understand how it can look at itself and the decisions that have been made and feel good about what has transpired. Baseball is still no closer to the NFL in ratings or interest. And that’s okay. I don’t like it any better than Bud Selig does, I’m sure, but I also understand these things go in cycles. Besides, the NFL has problems of it’s own right now, and their problems are much more deadly in scope. With patience, baseball’s time will come again. Embrace your history, don’t spurn and outright destroy it. The history is your charm. The quirks of the game is your charm. You don’t have to emulate the scheduling of basketball and hockey. It’s okay. I feel like I’ve written this column again and again, but baseball just keeps making decisions that push me back here. Don’t be like some insecure middle schooler, or Mitch Hedberg’s turkey. Just be yourself. Everybody will be much happier with you that way.
The individual teams are doing good things, building these wonderful new stadiums to replace the cookie-cutter stadiums of yesterday. They’re building up the neighborhoods and ballpark offerings to match as well. It also seems like ticket sales are not a problem for baseball as they have been for football in recent years. Why? Because you really do lose a lot going from TV to stadium with the NFL. That’s another big problem for football, and one that might bite even harder than the concussion stuff. Baseball? There is nothing to replicate the experience at the stadium. The sun-drenched afternoons (or impossibly nice nights) of summer can’t be beat. The pace of the game better accommodates taking in the stadium and what it has to offer. Plays are not usually down to the inch, making it better appreciated from any seat in the house. You have a lot going for you baseball, if you’d only just embrace it. Quit all these desperate gimmicks and appreciate what you have.
And for the love of god, can’t we go back to wearing and showing real stirrups again? How can you not appreciate looks like these?