All-Star winner to get home field for World Series
Winning the All-Star Game will still be worth something in October.
Home-field advantage in the World Series this year will again go to the league that wins the July matchup, owners and players agreed Tuesday.
"I don't like it, honestly. I think it should rotate every year," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said before Tuesday night's game against Toronto.
"It's still an exhibition game, any way you cut that. I agree with a lot the commissioner's office does, but I just don't think they should give that advantage."
Originally a two-year experiment in 2003 to make the midsummer classic more attractive to fans and more meaningful for the teams, the idea was extended last season.
The American League has taken the All-Star game all three times, and the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox have swept the World Series the last two years after starting at home. Florida won in 2003 despite opening the Series at Yankee Stadium.
"It's great for the game, especially the fans," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The fans don't think it's another exhibition game, a showcase. We played for something that helped us last year."
The AL is currently enjoying its best run of success in All-Star play, having won eight times and tying once since the National League's last victory in 1996.
Guillen will manage the AL team on July 11 at Pittsburgh. White Sox slugger Paul Konerko played in last year's All-Star win.
"We definitely were hoping we would win that game because I thought it might in some remote way help us down the road, which it did," Konerko said. "It was a big reason we won last year, because we had home-field advantage in the World Series."
Even so, Konerko is no fan of the plan.
"I'm still a believer that it shouldn't count," he said. "We play 162 games that count. That's what should decide who gets home-field advantage."
"Some guy from some last-place team shouldn't have to be worrying about giving up a home run and then lose the game and blow home-field advantage for his league," he said. "The TV ratings, the money -- basically, it comes down to the dollar. It rules the day."
Adding extra weight to the All-Star game, however, has not helped the television ratings. Last year's matchup in Detroit drew its worst TV number ever -- surpassing the low mark set the previous season.
Houston's Phil Garner will manage the NL next month. Knowing what's at stake will affect how he handles his team, and that might leave a few players on the bench.
"If people are chosen to play in an All-Star game, it would be nice to play in the All-Star game. So if you really don't have consequences other than just pride, you would get everybody in the ballgame," he said.
"It's the rules we're going to play by, so we're going to do everything we can to win. After having been in it last year, home field is an advantage, no question about it. Home field with the roof -- if we could get that thrown in there, maybe it would be a complete coup for us."
Players and owners had hoped to announce an agreement for this year earlier, but have been busy with many other off-the-field issues, including steroids. Baseball's labor deal runs out after this season, and the sides may try to agree to a long-range plan tying the All-Star game to the World Series in future labor negotiations.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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