When it comes to the All-Star game, it's time to put a stop to the madness

Palm Beach PostJuly 13, 2013 

— Pull the plug.

Do it now, as in immediately.

It falls into the better-late-than-never category, and never should winning the All-Star game have determined which league gets home-field advantage for something as important as the World Series.

But it does.

Now, more than ever, though, it's time to stop the madness.

One of the best things Commissioner Bud Selig could do for Major League Baseball would be to make the announcement that the All-Star game, to be played Tuesday night in New York, will have no bearing on the World Series schedule. Give the home-field edge to the American League, because the last time the All-Star game had nothing to do with the World Series was in 2002, which was played in a National League city (Milwaukee).

The connection between the All-Star game and the World Series always struck me as a preposterous idea. The former is a glorified exhibition; the latter is a championship endeavor.

What sense does it make for the reward for All-Star game victory to be so significant?

Zero.

More importantly, however, the Biogenesis Clinic scandal hangs over this year's All-Star game.

Here are four names: Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, Bartolo Colon of the Oakland A's, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers.

They are All-Stars.

They also are linked to Major League Baseball's investigation of Biogenesis Clinic, and face possible suspensions depending on the results of the inquiry.

That means a suspected dirty player could play a major role in determining the World Series home-field advantage. And the A's, Rangers and Tigers are all legitimate American League title contenders, which means Colon, Cruz or Peralta could make a big World Series difference for their respective teams by playing well in the All-Star game.

(This seems an appropriate place for a reminder that Melky Cabrera, then playing for San Francisco, was MVP of last summer's All-Star game, subsequently was suspended for 50 games for violation of the MLB drug policy ... and the Giants went on to win the World Series.)

If that's all too serious to consider as Major League Baseball tries to escape the mess of its Steroids Era, which might be impossible, then just concentrate on the ridiculousness of the All-Star game having any impact on the World Series in the first place.

Do you remember 2008?

The American League won 4-3 in 15 innings. It was a dramatic game in old Yankee Stadium's final season.

It was grand theatre.

But it also tempted farce.

Clint Hurdle, managing the National League team, told New York Mets third baseman David Wright he would have been the next pitcher had a 16th inning been required.

"We had what we had," Hurdle said at the time.

American League manager Terry Francona, then of Boston, might have had a real problem with which to deal. His last pitcher was in the game. It was Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir, and the Rays were Boston's rivals in a tight AL East race. Kazmir was coming off a 100-pitch weekend outing, and the Rays weren't happy about the situation. That's why Boston outfielder J.D. Drew would have been on the mound for the AL had the game continued.

The point is that such nonsense could happen in any All-Star game.

It's a substitution-filled exhibition, and it's folly to link it to something as important as the World Series. If an All-Star game victory in July is going to be important in terms of the championship series schedule format in the fall, then play the game seriously.

If it's going to be such a meaningful contest, don't turn it into Little League stuff by dictating that everybody -- or almost everybody -- on the roster has to play. Keep the best players on the field as long as need be, and never mind the popularity-contest aspect of the engagement.

It'd be better that the World Series' home-field advantage go back to a rotational basis than continue to be determined on the basis of an All-Star game win.

Throw in the Biogenesis cheats, if that's what they prove to be, and it hatches the possibility of becoming a spectacular absurdity.

Greg Stoda writes for The Palm Beach Post. Email: greg_stoda@pbpost.com.

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