In 2002 the MLB All-Star game ended in a tie after in the 11th inning because both teams ran out of player. As bad as that outcome was, MLB and the Players Union made an even worse one. They made the game count. Not for extra money or something fun, but for home field advantage in the World Series.
It took 15 long years, but Tuesday night, we had a game that didn't count again. The game went mostly as expected, with stars playing and then taking a seat. Pitchers threw innings, and hitter pitch hit. It was a game that like any other day played by the rules. Then something happened in the 6th inning. The National League scored a run on a solo home run and tied the game at 1.
I will admit, at this point I got a little nervous. After all, a tie is what made the game count to start with, and I didn't what a repeat of that. The game went on, with both teams using players just like before. We got to the 9th still tied. Three strikeouts on the top for the AL, and two Ks and a fly out later, we were heading to extras.
Now, I was a little worried. Would they run out of players again? The bench was not near depleted but the thought came to my mind. A lead off solo shot put me at ease a little, but we still had the bottom half to play. Cleveland's Andrew Miller came in and closed the door on the NL for the 2-1 victory.
The AL was celebrating the win with hip bumps and sunflower seed baths, while the NL headed home a little down. But it didn't count. The best team in the NL can still host the World Series if they have the best record. The AL went home happy, but they still have to play well to have home field advantage.
The World did not end Tuesday night after nine innings of tied baseball. Players were playing hard the entire game. It was an All-Star game to be proud of in every way. It was fun, it was concluded, and it was baseball ball.
After 15 years, I watched a game that didn't count, and it was fabulous.