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Friday, January 10
Best All-Star Game would become even better

By Jayson Stark

Whatever it takes to rescue the All-Star Game from being swallowed by The Tie That Ate Milwaukee, I'm in favor of it.

If that means we have to pay the players on the winning team an extra 10,000 bucks a man, do it.

If that means we have to expand the rosters to 35 per league -- including an extra-innings emergency taxi squad -- do it.

If that means instituting a rule that honors pitchers who pitched the Sunday before the game -- but prohibits them from suiting up -- do it.

If that means conspiring with the FAA to ban all personal charter planes (hired by certain high-income superstars who will remain nameless) from taking off until 30 minutes after the final out, do it.

And if that means allowing the winning team to decide home-field advantage in the World Series, do it.

Now it's not as if there is no downside to this World Series brainstorm. If some big-time star gets hurt some year because the All-Star manager decides to leave him in for all nine innings in the name of winning, you know you'll be hearing serious moaning about this rule.

And when we look up in the 11th inning next July and realize that, say, Mike Maroth, Aubrey Huff and Scott Sauerbeck are in the midst of deciding where the next World Series Game 7 will be played, you're hereby authorized in advance to ask (one time only): What the heck were they thinking?

It's also important to contemplate just what we're talking about here. The right to host Game 7 has become more than a ceremonial honor. It's become practically an invitation to plan your parade route.

No home team has lost a Game 7 of any World Series since the 1979 Orioles got run over by Wilver D. Stargell's We Are Family Pirates. That's 8-0 for the old homeboys, if you're calculating along in your den.

But that doesn't make this a bad idea. Au contraire. That's what makes it a great idea.

One of the big complaints of the modern baseball fan, remember, is that the only purpose that teams like the Devil Rays and the Tigers and the Brewers seem to serve these days is to be human punching bags for the Yankees and A's and Cardinals. Ah, but not under this plan.

Now there is going to be somebody on every team in baseball who can sit back in October, as Game 7 unfurls in breathtaking 3-D splendor on his 45-inch HDTV, and think, "I played a part in determining the outcome of the whole season for the whole sport." And how is that a bad thing?

When you're the sport with the best All-Star game in creation, you should always be conscious of what you have and treat it with the reverence it deserves. If baseball is aspiring to restore meaning to the only All-Star game that ever had any meaning, what's wrong with that?

Uh, just one question, though: If the game ever does end in a tie again, does that mean they have to play Game 7 in a neutral site? And how fast can they get that New Orleans Superdome ready, anyway?

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

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