Fans pan All-Star stakes

Game should not decide Series edge

The Associated PressJuly 13, 2009 

Every time Tony La Russa walks onto a field, it's serious. So the St. Louis Cardinals manager wants to see a competitive All-Star Game.

Whether the winner should be rewarded with a World Series edge, well, that's different.

"There's a better way to determine home-field advantage," La Russa said.

A majority of Major League Baseball fans agree, an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released Sunday shows. By a margin of 56 percent to 42 percent, fans said the All-Star Game shouldn't be used to determine which league's champion gets to open the World Series at home.

That link went into place in 2003, and the American League has won every Midsummer Classic since. The AL will try to make it seven in a row Tuesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Jim O'Shea is a lifelong Boston backer. Retired and living in Richmond, Va., he'd prefer baseball drop the tie between the All-Star Game and World Series.

"It helped my Red Sox in '04 and '07, but I'm in favor of finding some other way of deciding who gets it," he said.

For nearly a century, the World Series alternated between opening in AL and NL cities. Since the All-Star result started deciding things, AL teams have gone 9-3 while hosting Games 1 and 2.

"I'm on the fence," San Francisco center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "It's neat because it makes the game a little more fun for the fans and players."

Still, switching back and forth "was fair and everybody knew where they were going, who had home-field advantage," he said.

In other poll results:

More than half of fans said every team shouldn't have a guaranteed spot on the All-Star rosters.

Eighty-two percent said players penalized under MLB's drug policy shouldn't be allowed into the All-Star Game in the year they are punished.

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games this season for violating the drug rules, then drew early support in fan voting for starting spots in the All-Star Game. He eventually finished seventh among NL outfielders and was not picked as a reserve.

MLB drug rules specifically say suspended players are eligible to be All-Stars.

"You should be accountable for everything you do. I mean, if you break the law and you're a criminal, you're going to jail," Texas reliever Eddie Guardado said. "You get suspended that year, I don't think you should be allowed play. I think it should be a penalty. I think Manny knows he shouldn't be participating. That's the right thing to do."

The 33-man All-Star rosters include at least one player from every team. Many clubs have a lone representative, among them Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones, Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez and Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly.

The rosters have been expanded over the years, making it easier to include every team. Even so, 55 percent of surveyed fans said teams shouldn't be assured a spot.

A similar percentage of fans want to eliminate the tie between the All-Star Game and World Series. The chances of that happening anytime soon are about zero -- what began as a two-year experiment in 2003 is now part of the labor contract through 2011, and neither the players' union nor management seems interested in a change.

"It's supposed to be fun, but I guess they're trying to get the fans into it again," Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford said. "You really wish you could relax, but you can't because it's so serious now."

Crawford would like to see best overall record determine home field for the World Series. Some others have suggested whichever league does best in interleague play should earn it.

The AP-Knowledge Networks poll was conducted June 26 to July 5 and involved online interviews with 655 adults who said they were interested in Major League Baseball. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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