Which league is better — the American League or the National League?
Tonight, it’s the American League, it seems. The AL beat the senior circuit tonight on a Hank Blalock two-run blow off Eric Gagne, 7-6. That means, the AL is better, right?
Well, not according to Clay Davenport and Nate Silver. Based on their analysis, it’s not surprising that NL teams beat AL teams in interleague play at a rate of 54 percent.
Does one game, granted a game filled with most of the sport’s best players, really erase the trend?
Any statistician will tell you, one event is too small of a sample size.
Yet, this was the most important game All Star Game in the mid-season classic’s history. This time, as the teevee spots reminded repeatedly, it mattered. Home-field advantage in the 2003 World Series now belongs to the American League.
In a sport beset by lousy rules (the designated hitter, for example), cheating players, competitive imbalance, and too much player-owner strife, the best idea Commissioner Bud Selig had was to make the All Star Game “matter.”
Never mind that conceivably, one or both teams who will make it to the WS only had one player in the ASG, or that neither the AL or the NL manager are likely to even make it to the post season this year. Never mind that the two managers who do make to that magical final series had no control over the outcome of this game. Never mind that both teams were forced to take on less deserving players under game rules (Rondell White, Mike Williams, Dmitri Young, Lance Carter) while some of this year’s best players were left at home (Milton Bradley, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Aubrey Huff, Todd Walker, Lance Berkman Orlando Cabrera, Sidney Ponson, Brandon Webb).
Never mind all that — this game mattered.
It’s a shame that it did.