If the Cubs actually get to the World Series this year, they should have nobody to blame but themselves if Game 1 isn’t at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs’ seven All-Star selections – including the entire National League starting infield – assures more say than anybody else over the game’s outcome, and the home-field advantage in the World Series that comes with a victory.
“Certainly, you think about it,” said All-Star second baseman Ben Zobrist, whose Royals used an electric atmosphere in Kansas City last fall to get a two-game jump on the Mets.
That included a 14-inning victory in Game 1 that featured a ninth-inning home run to tie and a walk-off sacrifice fly.
“You want that home-field advantage if you get there,” Zobrist said. “We had it in Kansas City last year, and it was a big deal.”
In fact, Zobrist, like many players, believes it’s too big a deal to attach to the outcome of a midseason exhibition game.
“I don’t love the fact that the All-Star Game decides that. I would rather have the whole regular-season decide that,” he said. “It’s not what [the game] is for. It’s a fan spectacle. It’s for the players to entertain the fans. It’s for all the best players to be out there, playing against each other all at the same time.
“I wish it was more based on the overall record of the team [in the playoffs].”
Last year that would have lined it up the same way, with the Royals (95 wins) at home against the Mets (90) for Game 1. Had the Cubs (97) beaten the Mets in the NL Central, it might have flipped.
“I don’t have a great idea for [assigning home field], but I certainly wish it was just decided by the teams that get there,” he said.
Even if it was based on the two teams’ interleague records. “I would be more for that,” Zobrist said.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t mind the stakes but acknowledges it changes the way the game is managed.
“I had everything plotted before the game began, right down to who’s pitching in what inning,” said Maddon, who managed the 2009 American League All-Stars. “You have this expanded roster to try to get everybody involved as much as you can but still retaining players for the extra-inning potential. All this stuff’s going on in your head.
“I don’t have any strong opinions one way or the other,” Maddon said. “The only fact that I do like about it is that it makes the game actually more competitive, and I think that sets our All-Star Game apart from like a Pro Bowl or an NBA All-Star Game.”