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PITTSBURGH -- This time it counted, again. And the Commissioner of Major League Baseball couldn't have been happier.
For the second time in the four years since baseball tied the winning league in the All-Star Game to home-field advantage in the World Series, the game came down to the wire. Three years ago in Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field, the American League came back from a 5-1 deficit and won, 7-6, in the bottom of the eighth when Hank Blalock hit a two-run pinch-hit homer.
On Tuesday night at PNC Park, the AL was down to the last batter with nobody on base and the National League seemed on the verge of winning for the first time since 1996. A single, double and Michael Young's two-run triple later, it didn't happen.
"This is what I've been talking about," Bud Selig told MLB.com after the AL made it 17 out the last 20 with the 3-2, sudden-death win. "Did you see the reaction of both teams at the end? The intensity was tremendous. That's the thing that had been missing. And now we've brought it back."
The AL is 9-0-1 in the last 10 games, including the four that count. So again this October, the AL will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Including the old format when the AL had advantage in the even years and the NL in the odd years, this will be five consecutive years that the AL has held serve.
The last time the NL had home-field advantage was 2001 and the Arizona Diamondbacks needed every inning of all seven games to defeat the New York Yankees in Phoenix. Since 2003, though, home field hasn't been an issue. The Florida Marlins defeated the Yankees in six games that season, winning Games 1 and 6 at Yankee Stadium.
The last two have been sweeps: Boston wrapping up the Cardinals at St. Louis in 2004 and the White Sox defeating the Astros in Houston last fall.
No matter. Selig said earlier in the day during his MLB.com chat with the fans that the current format is the way to go.
"I like what we're doing for the All-Star Game," he said. "This is the Midsummer Classic. This is a big, big game for us. This is a game that means a lot. It had lost its luster. Players didn't seem to care. They'd wouldn't show up and if they did, they left early. Now, what you have is real intensity because each league understands that they're playing for home-field advantage in the World Series. I think it's the best way to do it."
The Commissioner's opinion continued to be vindicated on Tuesday night.