Home Field Advantage
Ever since the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie, Bud Selig decided that it needed something extra. So he laid out his plan to give home-field advantage in the World Series to whichever league won the meaningless exhibition game in the middle of July. I guess there’s no real clear-cut way to determine which team should receive that pivotal extra home game come October.
Alternating Home-Field: Before the tie, home field advantage simply alternated between leagues every year. The NL would have the advantage in even years and the AL in odd years. This isn’t a terrible way of doing it, but it does completely ignore every aspect about both teams and both leagues. I’m not a huge fan, but there could be worse ways. See below.
All Star Game: This isn’t a great way to decide, but it’s certainly something. It makes more sense if the All-Star rosters were more appropriately constructed. Instead of the fans voting for whichever big name they recognize the most, have the players vote for who they think gives them the best chance to win home-field advantage. The All-Star game isn’t the place to give Tim Wakefield some sort of ridiculous lifetime “achievement” selection, especially since he’s not one of even the top twenty five starters in his own league. Also, if each team is required to have at least one representative that makes a mockery of this system determining home-field advantage too.
Better Record: This is probably the most popular option to determine who gets home-field advantage, and up until the World Series, I’ okay with it. But because the leagues don’t play each other for more than two weeks’ worth of games in midsummer, I don’t like it. League power is cyclical and the parity between leagues is often less than ideal. Currently, the American is in a decade long cycle of complete interleague dominance. Handing home-field advantage to an NL West team that wins 98 games over an AL East team that finishes the season with 95 wins doesn’t make complete sense to me.
Better League: Here’s the one where I’ll throw my weight behind. Since baseball now plays over 200 games between leagues, I think there’s an appropriate enough sample size to determine which league deserves home-field. This one’s simple: whichever league proves itself as the superior circuit gets home-field advantage. It’s a more telling sample than one exhibition game in July that’s more of a social event than a game.