Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is This The National League's Year?

It's been a long time since the National League has beat the American League in the All-Star game. Not as long as the Cub's World Series drought, but long enough make notice of it.

The last time the N.L. sank the A.L. was in 1996. It was Ozzie Smith's last All-Star game, Mike Piazza was named the MVP and the American League was shutout 6-0.

How important is home-field advantage in the World Series?

The two leagues have split the six World Series titles since the inception of the rule in 2003. With Florida (2003), St. Louis (2006), and Philadelphia (2008) taking it for the National League and Boston (2004), Chicago White Sox (2005) and Boston (2007) wining it for the American League.

With those numbers it seems like home field advantage is a craps shoot, 50-50 chance.

Something that should be taken into consideration is the format in which the World Series is played. Similar to the NBA Finals, the 2-3-2 format is in place where the home-field team gets the first two home games and the other team gets games three, four and five. The last two games, if necessary, are played at home-field team's turf.

This format has created various problems for some teams that had home-field advantage. For instance in 2003, when the Marlins played the Yankees, the Fish won the series 4-2 by taking two games in New York and only losing one at home. Some teams can't take the pressure of a three-game stint away from home.

In essence, home-field advantage only benefits those teams that can last a three-game stint at the opposing team's stadium. It all depends on the poise and readiness of the team. It could be said that those teams that lost the championship while having home-field were just not ready to be World Series champions.

In the end, it's certain that most teams would like to have the advantage either way. The World Series is a whole different level and anything could happen - any logical team would like four games at home rather than three.

So do the N.L. All-Stars have it in them this year to end the drought and surpass the A.L.? There is a good chance that it can happen, but momentum is difficult to shift and it will take a concerted effort by the National League to secure home-field for their side.

The All-Star game begins at 8 PM EST and can be watched on FOX. Tim Lincecum will represent the N.L. on the mound, while Roy Halladay will be the starter for the A.L. May the best league win.

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