And the problem got worse for the NL on Tuesday night, as the AL once again secured that coveted home-field advantage for the World Series with a 4-3 victory at Busch Stadium.
The AL has now won seven straight Midsummer Classics -- the third-longest streak in All-Star Game history -- and has not lost in the last 13. The NL hasn't won since 1996 -- the longest dry spell since the game's inception in 1933.
"That's crazy," Twins closer Joe Nathan said. "With the amount of talent that is on both sides, you would think one year they're going to mix one in. But we've been fortunate."
The fortune will really kick in come October, when the AL once again enjoys the home-field benefit that became a All-Star reward in 2003, when the game was elevated from mere exhibition to postseason precursor.
Exactly what that means to those participating in Tuesday's game depends on who you ask.
"Obviously, you want to win," Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay said. "Right now, the National League guys are like, 'Eh.' And we're like, 'We won, great.' I don't think anyone really understands it until you need it. You look around and say it's going to impact at least one person in here. We probably didn't think a lot about it tonight. You'd think about it a lot more if the World Series started the day after the All-Star Game."
|The AL is 12-0-1 since its 1996 defeat at Philadelphia -- the longest unbeaten streak in All-Star history.|
|1997||AL 3, NL 1|| Jacobs Field, Cleveland|
|1998||AL 13, NL 8||Coors Field, Denver|
|1999||AL 4, NL 1||Fenway Park, Boston|
|2000||AL 6, NL 3||Turner Field, Atlanta|
|2001||AL 4, NL 1||Safeco Field, Seattle|
|2002||7-7 tie||Miller Park, Milwaukee|
|2003||AL 7, NL 6||U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago|
|2004||AL 9 ,NL 4||Minute Maid Park, Houston|
|2005||AL 7, NL 5||Comerica Park, Detroit|
|2006||AL 3, NL 2||PNC Park, Pittsburgh|
|2007||AL 5, NL 4||AT&T Park, San Francisco|
|2008||AL 4, NL 3||Yankee Stadium, New York|
|2009||AL 4, NL 3||Busch Stadium, St. Louis|
|Complete All-Star Game results >|
Interestingly, the home-field honor hasn't swayed the Series in any definitive direction. Of the six Series in which home field was determined by the All-Star outcome, each side has won three times.
Still, when October comes, the teams who have a Series at stake will no doubt be looking back to Tuesday night and either thanking Nathan for striking out the Phillies' Ryan Howard with two on in the eighth or cursing that moment when Rays left fielder Carl Crawford hauled in a would-be homer by the Rockies' Brad Hawpe.
"We all know how important it is," Mets third baseman David Wright said. "We take a lot of pride in coming here and trying to win one for the National League. We came up a little short, but we all know what's at stake, and we all have a lot of pride. There's not really anything that needs to be said. We know the circumstances. We know the importance of this game. We just came up a little short."
That's been the trend, though the NL has certainly fought the good fight in recent years. The AL's last four wins have each come by a single run. That matches the longest string of one-run decisions in All-Star Game history.
"It's the luck of the bounce," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Really, there were a couple of key defensive plays that could have gone either way. There wasn't a lot of hitting. Maybe one ball drops in and one ball doesn't drop in, and it's a different game."
Before the All-Star participants can worry about the impact of home field, they have plenty of other concerns. Center fielder Curtis Granderson, whose Tigers hold a 3 1/2-game lead in a tight AL Central race, didn't want to think about it just yet.
"We've got to get down to business," he said. "We have to go to New York. They're playing great. And then everything gets tougher after that. Everybody in the American League Central will be looking to get into that spot."
The NL always finds itself in a tough spot in these All-Star Games. And no presidential pardon can save them.
"Three, four years, you can say it's just happenstance," Obama said. "But it starts to get to be a trend when you're starting to go on 12 years."