PHOENIX -- For the first time in three years, Charlie Manuel does not have to worry about managing an All-Star Game tonight. But you can bet he is watching from Winter Haven, Fla.
The Phillies have a vested interest in this exhibition. They have 57 wins. A return trip to the World Series is the goal. And if they want four potential home games in the Fall Classic instead of three, the National League must win tonight.
It's a ridiculous notion that a crucial advantage in the sport's championship is determined by an exhibition, but that's what Major League Baseball -- and namely, Fox -- want. And it likely won't be changing when the new collective bargaining agreement is signed this winter.
Comissioner Bud Selig, predictably, praised the recent play of the All-Star Game since a stake at home-field advantage in the World Series was added.
"I like the way the games have been played since 2003," Selig said. "Our television partners certainly like it. Ratings do mean something to every club. Until somebody comes up with something better than really excites people, yeah, I do like it. If you look at each game, this has been good. There's no question about it."
Michael Weiner, head of the players' union, said the players will explore talks about changing the format. But in the end, it's likely the MLBPA has issues ranking of higher importance and will be willing to concede on this specific one.
Why not just award home-field advantage to the team with the best record?
"You can't wait until the end of the year," Selig said. "At least once one league wins, now you start making hotel reservations. The Super Bowl, they award them six years in advance."
Then, he added the real reason.
"Doing things that help your television partners is not an unconstitutional act."
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