Photo: Creative Commons
I hope, immediately after Tony La Russa’s post-All Star Game presser, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig ushered the retired St. Louis manager into a private viewing room at Kauffman Stadium and made the green light sleepin’ lush watch every game of every World Series played since 2003. And I really hope Allan H. spent extra time, slow-motion style, going through games 6 and 7 of the 2011 Fall Classic.
How quickly Tony La Russa forgets.
Since the MLB All Star game has “counted,” its winner has gone on to capture the World Series title in 6 of 9 attempts. That is to say, two-thirds of the time, home field advantage has meant something. How much? How little? That’s debatable, but the results are pretty impressive. It certainly suggests a powerful benefit to the All Star winner. Or it’s not that big of a deal. Just ask Tony:
Q. We talk about the home field advantage element, and you really lived it last year; can you talk about what that could mean for whatever NL team gets to that point?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, the commissioner probably is not going to like this answer a whole lot. If you get to the playoffs, we didn't have home field against Philadelphia and Milwaukee, and that was a big disadvantage against two very good clubs.
If you are an October team, you can overcome that. So it's a nice edge. I'm sure the National League would rather play their home games there. But if you don't have it, you can still win. I mean, it's not a magic bullet; it's just a nice edge.
In one sentence, La Russa speaks to the “big disadvantage” of playing on the road for the NLDS and NLCS, then casually labels the benefit of home field advantage in the biggest of series as “just a nice edge.”
IT’S A TREMENDOUS EDGE, and La Russa, of all managers, ought to know that after he schooled Ron Washington in the idiosyncrasies of the National League in games 6 and 7 of last year’s World Series. Evidently, La Booza has forgotten that the rules are different in each league.
He’s correct, it’s not a magic bullet, but when it comes to pitchers hitting and double-switches and all the things that complicate skipping a game in a NL park, it’s a lot more than “just a nice edge” for the Senior Circuit.