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Doug Wolter: The home field debate again

It’s July, and so it’s time once again for the annual debate over the meaning of baseball’s All-Star Game.

If you’re a “purist,” you’re not supposed to like the fact that the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series. I suppose I’m not a purist, because I LOVE the rule.

I’m not a purist? I still don’t like the designated hitter rule. I don’t like interleague play. I think instant replay is a travesty. And don’t even get me started about the new home plate collision rule.

There. I hope we’ve got that settled. You know, it’s good when we can talk these things out.

So now that my credentials are established, let me tell you why the All-Star Game rule is wonderful. One simple reason: It makes the All-Star game worth something. It becomes more than just an exhibition. As Kirk Gibson, one of my favorite players in the 80s, said last week, “I just think watching other All-Star exhibitions — ahem, I mean games — that the baseball All-Star Game is the most important and they play appropriately, they play a real game. They play defense, they play offense, there’s strategy involved.”

Sure is. Players play the baseball All-Star Game to win. Do they do that in the NFL’s Pro Bowl? Do they do that in the NBA All-Star Game? C’mon. In the NFL and NBA games, players are practically comatose.

A few other things about baseball’s World Series. I came across a 2014 piece by someone called Rob Neyer entitled, “Home Field in the World Series Ain’t So Great.” In it, Mr. Neyer opined that home field advantage doesn’t amount to much in baseball. Citing statistics, he said that from 2004 to 2013, home teams won postseason games at “only” a .543 clip — impacting only one in every eight games. In regular season games, home teams “only” win at a .542 percentage.

The columnist’s point was that the better team wins the World Series almost all the time. He’s a proponent of the All-Star Game rule, by the way.

Guys like Neyer remind me of the insurance commercial on TV where the guy says to his mother, “You’re not helping.” Wouldn’t you rather be the team in the World Series with the .543 number on your side?

Of course you would. And if you don’t believe me, just ask the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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