In a contest with a final score that seemed rather appropriate for the so-called “year of the pitcher,” the National League finally beat the American League in the All-Star Game for the first time in 14 years, winning 3-1 on the strength of some ridiculous pitching.
Though I enjoy giving the NL a good ribbing from time to time, there was nothing to laugh about last night, as the National League All-Star pitching staff was flat-out filthy, limiting the AL to one run over nine innings (an unearned run, at that) and holding the hitters to a .194 batting average. Nearly every single pitcher who entered the game — for both teams — was throwing unreal gas, with seemingly every pitch registering in the high 90s. Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson in particular were downright unfair.
For their part, the AL pitching staff was almost as dominant, save for one bad inning. Clinging to a one-run lead — provided by a Robinson Cano sac fly — first time All-Star Phil Hughes put runners on first and third after surrendering two consecutive hits. Perhaps not wanting his young ace-in-the-making to deal with the pressure of potentially losing home field advantage in the World Series, Joe Girardi summoned Matt Thornton, who walked the bases loaded and then gave up a bases clearing double to Brian McCann.
Unfortunately two of those runs were of course charged to Hughes, and while home field advantage isn’t the be-all end-all, I sure hope Hughes pitches well enough in the World Series that the Yankees don’t have to return to the National League ballpark for Games 6 and/or 7. The last time the Yankees didn’t have HFA in the World Series was 2001, and those memories still sting. Although on the flip side, as much as I was hoping to have the first two Series games at home again this year, now the Yankees have an opportunity to clinch at home in a sweep, a la 1999.
Speaking of the World Series, are we done with this ridiculous rewarding of home field advantage based on the outcome of the All-Star Game yet? I’d still be saying the same thing even if the American League had won. It makes less than zero sense, and to this day I have not seen a palatable explanation as to why the team with the better record heading into the World Series doesn’t have home field advantage.
The only reasoning I’ve ever heard for this is something about there not being enough time for Major League Baseball to book enough hotel rooms if they don’t know who the host city is until after the respective League Championship Series, but that’s a complete and utter load. Somehow MLB is able to make do with accommodations for the Division and LCSes, and those series always reward the team with the better record home field advantage.
How is it that in the year 2010 baseball still can’t somehow get its act together and bestow HFA in the World Series on the team that actually deserves it? Really, baseball, you need four months of lead time to book all your rooms for the World Series, even though you still don’t know which city will be hosting until the culmination of the League Championship Series anyway? Somehow narrowing it down to four cities come October is the difference-maker? You are MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, for crying out loud — I guarantee you can find enough interns to book all the hotel rooms you need in the prospective host city of the team with the better record heading into the World Series with only a few days’ notice. It’s embarrassing for the game and also de-incentivizes potential playoff teams in the league that can’t host the World Series — sure, HFA in the DS and LCS is great, but why go whole-hog for best record if you get to the World Series and it doesn’t even mean anything?
Baseball needs to correct this, and they need to do it fast. I haven’t seen anything on last night’s ratings yet, but I hope they were horrendous enough that it prompts Bud Selig to finally rethink the ridiculousness of rewarding a legitimate postseason advantage based on the result of an exhibition game.