So far talk of the 2015 All-Star Game has been dominated by the Kansas City Royals and how many of their players will crack the starting lineup. While the fan voting in Kansas City has gotten out of hand, this is an issue that Major League Baseball will need to address moving forward. The other hot topic when discussing Baseball’s best exhibition game involves the winning team deciding which League will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
While there is still over half of the season to be played, this could be among the biggest games the Cardinals are associated with in 2015.
Entering tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals own the best record in baseball at 50-24. They are 8.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On top of that the club owns a +95 run differential. They have been playing as a complete baseball team and the pitching staff has been historically good.
While the team has been performing well on the road at 22-17 – it is their home record that shines. Teams generally play better at home than on the road, but St. Louis has been outstanding to the tune of 28-7. The Cardinals have been proven a tough team to beat during the first-half of the MLB season, but at home they have been as close to unbeatable as a team can be.
The game, which will be played on July 14 at Grand American Ballpark in Cincinnati could make the difference of having to play a Game 7 on the road in a hostile environment, or at home with the crowd at your back supporting you.
As of June 23rd the voting results looked like this:
Catcher – Buster Posey, followed by Yadier Molina
First Base – Paul Goldschmidt, followed by Adrian Gonzalez (Matt Adams happens to be 4th in this category, please stop).
Second Base – Dee Gordon, followed by Kolton Wong
Third Base – Matt Carpenter, followed by Todd Frazier
Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta, followed by Brandon Crawford
Outfielders – Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton (he will miss the game to injury), Matt Holliday (likely to miss the game) as the top three.
The following are the next top vote getters:
Nori Aoki (this can’t happen), Andrew McCutchen, Joc Pederson, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Hunter Pence, Jon Jay (really, guys?), Angel Pagan, Jay Bruce, Ryan Braun, Yasiel Puig and Starling Marte wraps out the top 15.
While it is true the starting lineup is controlled by the fans, other members of the roster will be called-in to play the game. In this era, rarely do you see a player play the entire game. Coaching will be a factor and the World Champion Giants’ Manager, Bruce Bochy will lead the NL. Part of his staff will include Don Mattingly of the Dodgers and Bryan Price of the Reds. Other members of the coaching staff will mostly be filled from the Giants coaching staff.
In 2011, the National League was triumphant, allowing the Cardinals to play at home in Game 7 of the World Series. After the Rangers deflating Game 6 defeat, would they have been rejuvenated if they played in front of their home fans? Many of you will remember the atmosphere for both Game 6 and Game 7 was electrifying in St. Louis.
It isn’t impossible to win a Game 7 on the road. Just last season the Giants beat the Royals in a fantastic series, but it did take greatness on a historical level from Madison Bumgarner to accomplish the feat.
I would rather play a Game 7 at home, however.
The Cardinals have a team that can win games on the road. But, their record at home cannot be overlooked. Being able to begin the World Series and potentially end it in St. Louis has incredible value. Most every team in baseball will tell you they love to play in front of their home fans, it can help to motivate. While it is something the team cannot largely control (although they will have players that will contribute), there is no doubt that this game is important.
While the All-Star Game rules may change in the future, the ones that are set for now have to be followed. Fans will be voting the starters into the game. The winner will determine home-field advantage. Vote wisely as the polls will be closing on July 2 to determine the starters.
The players and managers will need to make some other important decisions. The St. Louis organization much sit back and watch, hoping the National League will be victorious.
Look at the bright side. If the Royals are going to start 7 players, at least the National League can throw Madison Bumgarner at them.