COMMENTARY | It's that time of year again that many MLB fans pretend to love: All-Star week. And with the game on Tuesday comes the inevitable conversation that always devolves into a heated argument: Should the winning league be awarded home-field advantage in the World Series?
Since 2003, the rule has been in place and the AL has benefited seven times to the NL's three. This has translated into a 7-3 record for the league with home-field advantage -- a noticeable edge.
Why, then, are we allowing the rosters to be selected the way they are? Why does the team with the most wins in baseball, the Boston Red Sox, have so few representatives?
Beginning with the managers, the selection process for the game is completely out of whack. Rather than select the managers of each league's best team at the break -- the Red Sox's John Farrell and the St. Louis Cardinals' Mike Matheny -- the two in charge of the previous season's World Series clubs help determine the rosters for the All-Star game. This year, that responsibility falls to the San Francisco Giants' Bruce Bochy and the Detroit Tigers' Jim Leyland. While the Tigers are a solid team in contention for their division, the Giants have struggled.
And what about a year where a "Cinderella" team makes the World Series, such as in 2007 with the Colorado Rockies? At the break in 2008, the Rockies were a woeful 39-57, yet manager Clint Hurdle was tasked with assembling a squad who would fight for the World Series advantage.
He ended up being let go early the following season.
But let's excuse the managerial factor, because it's not hard to pick a team. Theoretically.
All-Star selection kicks off with a fan vote to elect the starters. That's right, a popularity contest. The biggest fan-bases are rewarded, not necessarily the game's best players. Michael Cuddyer is toiling away in Colorado with his .330 average, 16 home runs and 55 RBIs yet didn't even make the top 15 in voting among NL All-Stars.
Some players aren't even on the ballot. Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava is having a strong year, yet short of a massive write-in campaign, had no chance to be voted in.
In fact, the Red Sox placed only three players on the team -- and Clay Buchholz won't be playing due to injury -- despite being the AL's best team for most of the season. They've set a franchise record for wins before the All-Star break and have already nearly tied last year's total series wins of 20, falling one short with a half to go. They are a legitimate threat to represent the AL in the World Series and only David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia will be battling for home-field advantage.
Plus, every team must have at least one All-Star representative. Even the lowly Houston Astros get a player to decide the important game. Jason Castro is a good player, but not great, with numbers comparable to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Perhaps the most egregious offense has been the phenomenon known as the Final Vote. The NL's should have been simple, but it wasn't. Yasiel Puig nearly stole the slot away from the Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman despite playing only 38 games -- about 40 percent of his team's schedule so far. The Braves have the biggest division lead in MLB and look to be cruising into the playoffs -- for real this time -- while the Los Angeles Dodgers are stuck in neutral.
Luckily, America got it right, but it wasn't for lack of trying. The support and campaigning for Puig was far-reaching. He's an exciting player, sure, and he'll get his chance, but there were better choices this year.
In the AL, Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehera lost out to the fifth-place Toronto Blue Jays' Steve Delabar. Another missed opportunity to reward the AL's best team.
With the massive emphasis on voting and inclusion of someone from every team, it seems that MLB wants to make the All-Star game about the fans. And there's nothing wrong with that. But to have such an advantage -- 58.8 percent since the current 2-3-2 format started in 1924 -- determined by such a flawed method is asinine. That the Red Sox are aiming to secure home-field with only two players and the most wins in baseball is equally absurd.
MLB must make up its mind -- the fans or the advantage. It can't have it both ways.
Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7.
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