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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Selig's Folly: home field and home RULE advantage in game seven.

The Kansas City Royals have both home field and home RULE advantage in tonight's game seven of the Major Baseball League (MBL) finals against the San Francisco Giants.  In the regular season these two wild card teams won 89 and 88 games respectively and the two teams even met in inter-conference games this season with the Royals sweeping all three games from the Giants.  The Royals were the one wild card in the American Conference, while the Giants were the two wild card in the National conference, which forced them to play their wild card game on the road in Pittsburgh.  So by any actual logic, the Royals should have home field advantage in the seventh and deciding game.

That is not, however, how the Royals got the home field advantage.  They got it for the most amateurish reason among the three main team leagues in the USA: the Royals conference won the All Star game.  We need to keep reminding ourselves of the sheer and utter stupidity of this when considering the even more fundamental advantage bestowed upon the Royals through no merit, something which is all but lost when people speak of the home field advantage.  The Royals also get to play by the rules of their conference.

In 1972 the old American League adopted the designated hitter (DH) rule, which allows a team to assign a player, and substitutes for that player, to bat for all its pitchers in a game.  Combine that with the quaint and nonsensical historic absurdity that teams may configure their home parks as they wish within certain very loose guidelines and you have teams whose rosters are assembled according to vastly different criteria.

Allan Huber "Bud" Selig has been commissioner since 1992, so he has the distinction of presiding over the maintenance of the DH rule for more than half its more than 40 years of divisive existence.  Even the formal 1999 merger of the two once independent major leagues into one entity did not provoke Selig into establishing one set of rules.  Separate sets of umpires were eliminated as were league presidents and power was consolidated into the commissioner's office.  And how was that power used?  Not to address the DH anomaly but to have an exhibition game determine the advantage in the most important game of the entire season.

And this All Star exhibition game is absurd in itself.  Starting players are selected by fans who are encouraged to vote 25 times each with nothing to prevent even more ballot stuffing by voting as multiple persons.  Then, too, the custom is for the managers to get all the players on the rosters into the game and to limit the number of innings thrown by pitchers.

So when you watch tonight's climactic game remember all this and decide for yourself if the game's outcome was determined completely by merit or by random forces lacking intelligence.

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