Baseball's All-Star Game rosters expand; rules change
Ever since baseball decided that its All-Star Game would count for something -- specifically, home-field advantage in the World Series -- there has been an uneasy balance between playing to win and trying to ensure every player gets into the game.
The latest changes, announced Wednesday, take effect with this year's All-Star Game in Anaheim:
1) No more pleading with teams not to use their best starting pitcher on the Sunday before the All-Star Game. If a pitcher selected for the All-Star Game starts on that Sunday, he will be ineligible and will be replaced on the All-Star roster. He can still attend the game and wave to the fans.
2) No more wasting at-bats on a pitcher. The designated hitter rule will be in effect even for All-Star Games in National League ballparks, giving one more bench player an at-bat or two. The DH rule would have been in effect this summer anyway because Angel Stadium is an American League ballpark. The NL manager will select his starting DH; fan voting will continue to determine the starting AL DH.
3) No more keeping a position player on the bench in case of injury. The All-Star managers will designate one position player as eligible to return to the game in case of injury to a position player.
4) More players! The All-Star rosters now will include 34 players -- 21 position players and 13 pitchers. That's not counting any pitchers who start Sunday and come along for the festivities. So home-field advantage for the World Series, in games played with 25-man rosters, now will be determined by a game played with close to 40-man rosters. (Just like September, when playoff races are decided in games played with 40-man rosters.)
The revisions were recommended by a committee appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig -- one that includes Dodgers Manager Joe Torre and Angels Manager Mike Scioscia. The commissioner's office and the players union approved the recommendations.
-- Bill Shaikin