These days, the All-Star Game often brings with it debate over the stakes for the game — home field advantage for the winning league in the World Series. Baseball commissioner Cadillac Bud Selig instituted the new prize after the debacle of the 2002 All Star Game in his hometown of Milwaukee, when they ran out of players in extra innings and had to call the game a tie. The issue became managers using all their players to make sure they got in the game, and the focus got away from trying to actually win the game. Selig has pointed to the 1993 All Star Game in Baltimore, when American League manager Cito Gaston was the target of the wrath of Orioles fans when he did not put Mike Mussina into a game that was well out of reach.
That’s ridiculous. Gaston was an idiot not to use Mussina. The following year in Pittsburgh, the All-Star Game was one of the greatest played in recent memory, with the National League winning in the 10th inning by these score of 8-7.
No, what killed the All-Star Game was New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.
Torre managed the American League teams in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004, and it was from that stretch from 1997 to 2002 that the game changed for the worse. One American League All-Star once told me that Torre was the one who downplayed the importance of the game to the players. Selig likes to say since the game was changed to put World Series home field advantage on the line, it has been better. I think it’s more likely that it’s been better because Joe Torre isn’t part of it anymore.
- Thom Loverro