Home field for the World Series ought to be decided by something more than an exhibition game, even a Midsummer Classic exhibition game.
The All-Star Game is a unique sporting experience, but not because it has been arbitrarily turned into the determining factor for which league has the home-field advantage for the Fall Classic.
This is an event that, without any extra trimmings, is more lifelike than any other gathering of stars in any other North American professional sport. It combines an exercise in democracy with a magnificent tradition. With all this on the plus side, why ask this game to do something it shouldn't be asked to do?
This meeting of the best individual players that baseball has to offer is intrinsically worthwhile. It does not need to be punched up, pumped up, amped up, or dressed up -- in this case as the be-all, end-all in determining which team has the edge in the postseason of autumn.
This is one game. It has become a hallowed event on the baseball calendar, but it is one game. That did actually count for something until it was determined that it needed a boost. Then it counted. In a way.
Realistically, this situation isn't going to change soon, because both Major League Baseball and its broadcast partners believe that touting the All-Star Game as a game that "counts" is an effective marketing measure. But there would be better ways to decide this matter.
We have before us a handy, built-in alternative method for determining which league should enjoy the many benefits of home-field advantage in the World Series. This alternative would settle the matter by the end of the regular season. This alternative method accompanies us through every season, more comprehensively now than ever before.
This would be Interleague Play, in its 17th season, but for the first time, with us on a daily basis throughout the season. With a larger, more balanced sample size, we could award home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the Interleague series.
The fact that the likely Interleague series winner, for the 10th straight season, would be the American League, is incidental to the process. This is not a debate about the relative merits of the two leagues. This is simply a matter of finding a sensible, plausible, reasonable way to award home-field advantage in baseball's most important event.
The AL leads the National League, 106-92, in 2013 Interleague Play. The AL has won Interleague Play every season since 2004, at times by truly sizable margins.
This has led to annual predictions that this will be the year in which the NL will turn this thing around. These annual predictions have been, predictably, annually incorrect.
This year, the NL was supposed to have a new edge, because a one-team realignment sent the Major League's worst team in 2012, the Houston Astros, to the AL. Surely, the Astros, toting the baggage of a 55-107 mark, would help even things out for the Senior Circuit.
Not really. The Astros, even after losing two this week to the Cardinals -- the best the NL has to offer -- were merely 8-9 in Interleague Play. The Astros were hardly patsies for their former NL colleagues.
And now, with the Astros' move, the fair and equitable 15/15 split between leagues has necessitated a constant supply of Interleague Play. Let's put more impact behind this situation by making the Interleague games count twice. The All-Star Game will still have the stars and the game, and nothing of value will be lost.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less