Last night Justin Verlander started Game One of the 2012 World Series for the American League Champion Detroit Tigers. That game, along with tonight’s is in San Francisco; the Giants of course are the National League Champions. This fact was actually decided back in July in the MLB all-star game, won by the National League 8-0. This gave them home field advantage in the World Series, including the first two games and a prospective game seven. The National League’s victory in the all-star game was due in large part to a five-run first inning burst…off of none other than Verlander.
I’ll get back to that later, as I do feel that it’s an interesting point. However there’s a bit of a darker twist to this fall classic involving the all-star game. However Melky Cabrera of the GIants won the MVP of the all-star game that night. It’s also worth mentioning that the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval was a major contributor to the huge first inning rally, however again I’ll get back to that later on. Cabrera had two hits and two RBI in the game…he subsequently was suspended for 50 games during the month of August after testing positive for high levels of testosterone.
I’m not suggesting that baseball’s steroid policy (or that of any other sport) is fool-proof. And for the record I might be one of the few people that actually likes the whole business of the all-star game deciding home field advantage in the World Series.It’s a small token and furthermore while home field can make a difference it isn’t quite as big as it is in the NFL among other sports. However it puts some sort of stake on the game. However in this case I would submit that “the system” backfired. Granted Verlander didn’t do himself any favors in that all-star game, however when the MVP tests positive for testosterone that should tell you something. Now in fairness, Cabrera did not homer in the game. Yet his heroics in the all-star game aided in getting the National League and ultimately the Giants home field in the World Series.
I’m not sure what if anything could be done about this. You can’t take away home field advantage simply because there’s a question about whether or not the MVP of the game cheated. (Furthermore we all know that there are many more players out there who are using banned substances, and Cabrera was just one that was unlucky or stupid enough to get caught.) I think this is kind of a loophole with which we’re going to have to live. Furthermore, lets also remember that the Baltimore Orioles have had their share of “steroids guys” themselves.
However the fact is that you’d be hard pressed to argue that aside from the steroids controversy, the system worked beautifully in this case. Verlander lost the game from the beginning, thus losing the home field advantage for his league in the World Series. It ended up being his team that was the American League’s representative in the fall classic. The same is true in reverse for Pablo Sandoval (and of course Cabrera); his antics helped to win the game for his league, and it ended up being his team that’s directly benefiting. Verlander was asked if he’s sorry he pitched the way he did in the all-star game now, and his message seemed to be that it was an exhibition. Again, we’re talking about home field advantage in a prospective game seven. San Francisco won last night’s game, thus if they win the next three then you’d be hard-pressed to argue that home field advantage was even an issue. However if nothing else, it guarantees that someone gets an extra night in their own bed as opposed to the other side. For the record, Melky Cabrera is not on the Giants’ postseason roster.