Stuff ballot box, not World Series

Commentary

July 02, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

Frankly, I can't believe that I was once a proponent of the system that determines home-field advantage for the World Series. I must have been in the midst of one of my several midlife crises and just didn't think it through when the idea was proposed to link it to the outcome of the All-Star Game.

Maybe it seemed to make sense because the old system - which awarded home-field advantage to each league in alternating years - wasn't exactly devised by Archimedes. Maybe we were all just so upset after the infamous All-Star tie in Milwaukee in 2002 that we would have gone along with just about anything to make the midsummer classic more meaningful.

It actually sounds like you're solving two problems at once by giving the winning league in the All-Star Game an advantage in the World Series (an advantage so dynamic that 17 of the past 20 world champions exploited it), but the selection process for the two All-Star teams has become so convoluted that it raises glaring questions about the integrity of the process.

Fans have been stuffing the All-Star ballot box as long as they've had the vote, and nobody made much of a stink about it when the game was just a glorified exhibition. It was, after all, for the fans, so if they wanted to turn it into a pure popularity contest, more power to them - and there was enough discretion left to the All-Star managers to gloss over the big omissions.

Now, you've got fans voting all over the world (which is good), fans voting up to 25 times each on the Internet (which is bad) and no way to really know how much all this is affecting the outcome of the postseason ... and the credibility of the sport.

Granted, the image of baseball has been attacked from so many other directions over the past couple of years that this probably seems like a minor issue, but commissioner Bud Selig really ought to rethink the link.

Personally, I'd just give home-field advantage to the team that has the best regular-season record, though that would make it slightly more difficult for cities to prepare to host the World Series.

I guess when you're perhaps the best big man in the NBA, you can make a suggestion or two to your team's owner about his behavior.

Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki told The Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Friday that it would be nice if volatile owner Mark Cuban would tone down some of his courtside antics for the good of the team.

"The game starts and he's already yelling at [the officials]," Nowitzki said. "He needs to learn how to control himself a little better. If somebody's in your ear constantly ... I'd be [ticked] off if I were an official."

The recent announcement by incoming Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten that general manager Jim Bowden will be retained by the new Nats ownership group probably doesn't bode well for popular manager Frank Robinson.

Robinson was left in an uncomfortable position when the Nats brought in former Orioles teammate Davey Johnson as a consultant, but he said recently that he does hold out hope of remaining in the job beyond the end of this season.

Talk about mixed feelings. Pitching prospect Jered Weaver got the call to return to the major leagues with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, forcing his brother Jeff out of a job.

Jeff Weaver was designated for assignment after a rocky half season with the Angels. Jered returned after being sent to the minor leagues with a 4-0 record and 1.37 ERA when Bartolo Colon was ready to be activated.

This week's funny headline from SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based satire site on the Web: Lance Armstrong denies claims of everyone who ever met him.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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