An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column:
The All-Star Game didn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series when Pete Rose was a regular participant in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but he recalled league pride placed a definite emphasis on winning the game.
That meant the best players played most, if not the entire game. Rose routinely got four at-bats when he was a starter. Carl Yastrzemski made six trips to the plate (getting four hits) in the famous 1970 All-Star Game, when Rose had his defining moment in taking out catcher Ray Fosse in the 12th inning to score the winning run for the National League.
“You weren’t going to tell Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente that they were getting one at-bat and then taking a hike,” said Rose, a 17-time All-Star. “They wanted to play the whole game.”
Rose and Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck think the current All-Star Game needs to revert back to that old approach, especially with more than pride now on the line. Buck will be on the call for the All-Star Game Tuesday in Cincinnati. Rose will be on hand as an analyst working Fox’s pre and postgame shows.
Buck is a strong advocate of linking the All-Star Game to home-field advantage in the World Series. However, he argues both leagues need to go one step further and play their stars for most of the game. He is not a fan of managers trying to get everyone in the game, as has been the case in recent years. No player had four at-bats in last year’s All-Star Game, and the American League only had two players with three.
“How crazy would it be to just play this game to win? Is that a bad thing?” Buck said. “As someone who has called these games, it seems like I’m always going, ‘Hey, there’s a new rightfielder; hey, there’s a new second-baseman; hey, there’s a new shortstop.’ It just becomes silly.”