With the first half of the season over and the midsummer classic completed, it brings up a thought: the All-Star game doesn’t mean anything, so does it matter?
From 2003 until this year, the All-Star game decided home field advantage for the World Series. Prior to that, home field advantage alternated each year between the American League and the National League. This year is the first year that record determines home field advantage in the World Series.
There are debates on both sides–now that the All-Star game has nothing at stake, it gives the players a chance to have fun with the game. For instance, Nelson Cruz getting a picture with home plate umpire Joe West during the game. It also demonstrates the camaraderie between players in the league. On the other hand, this year the game went into a 10-inning battle with Robinson Cano hitting a walk-off homerun to win the game. But the stands had become increasingly thin by that time and the viewership of the game on national television was beat out by America’s Got Talent. But, it’s also the first year to year rating bump the game has had in 5 years.
The Home Run Derby this year had a 55% viewership improvement over last year.* This could be attributed to the change in format with head to head matchups and to break-out star and rookie Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees. The Derby is completely for the fans and honestly, for the players. Something that was exceedingly exciting to watch, especially this year.
So how does the All-Star game come to matter again? I guess it’s one of those things we will just have to wait and see about if they won’t bring back home field advantage as a prize.
On another note–I think it is not the best way to just give home field advantage to the team with the best record. The American League and National League are two completely different entities with the National League being the weaker of the two. MLB should either bring back the alternating home field advantage or do it like the NBA does. They make the decision based on four factors: overall record, head-to-head record, winning percent in the division, winning percent in the conference. These factors make the choice more equal between the conferences. (There would have to be tweaks for MLB with these factors, like head-to-head record).
It will be interesting to see how the All-Star Game does next year in their second year of “not counting” and which team takes home field advantage this year in the World Series.