LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford are back with their regular Monday morning debate, taking a look at the MLB All-Star game, which airs Tuesday night on WDRB-41.
1. Home field advantage for the World Series is decided by which league wins the All-Star Game, which will be televised by WDRB from Kansas City Tuesday night. We know why baseball made the switch after the tie game in 2002, but isn't there a better way?
RICK BOZICH: Yes, there is a better way. Give home-field advantage to the team with the best record in baseball. But this is the right way.
This isn't college basketball or football. Home field is not a game changer in baseball. Having the best pitching staff is a game changer in baseball. Give me CC Sabathia, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Mark Buehrle and Mariano Rivera and I'll beat you in Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium or Wembley Stadium.
The old baseball system -- AL home-field advantage one year, NL the next -- wasn't any better. It was just different.
It's an exhibition game with one little twist that makes it different that the NFL or NBA. It gives baseball a talking point for the 20 seconds or so that ESPN isn't obsessing about NFL OTAs. So let's leave it alone. Please?
ERIC CRAWFORD: I tried to muster up enough energy to disagree with you on this one Bo, but I can't.
Frankly, the home-field perk is the only thing keeping the All-Star game from sliding off into irrelevance. More people seem to pay attention to the Home Run Derby -- which is a little like lining up the world's best golfers and having them play in a long-drive contest the day before a major, but whatever.
I don't see any other way to deal the All-Star game back into a groove where people care about it.
I'm not even sure I don't like it better than giving home field to the best record. What if the best record is just a function of a weaker league?
Nothing's perfect, but this is, I agree, one area better left alone.
2. Dust off those April predictions -- who's the biggest surprise -- and the biggest disappointment in Major League Baseball?
CRAWFORD: The Philadelphia Phillies are the biggest disappointment since that (non-filly) I'll Have Another didn't even make the Belmont.
The Phillies were one of the favorites to have another pennant this season, and have been as rock-solid a franchise as there has been in baseball over the past several seasons, including the World Series title in 2008. Now, there's talk of a pre-trade deadline fire sale, with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee both being mentioned. This is a Philly Phree Phall.
Most surprising success? I know they were viewed as an up-and-coming team with some good young pitching, but to see the Washington Nationals atop an NL East ruled by the Atlanta Braves and Phillies for so long still rates high on my shock meter. Even the Mets, third in that division, are something of a surprise. And I think Washington sustains it.
BOZICH: First, the bad news. The biggest bust is the Miami Marlins. They spent a zillion dollars they probably didn't have to bring in Ozzie Guillen, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. Bell has been a disaster. He's pitched like he belongs on the Bats. Ozzie annoyed the Cuban community and the Marlins are three games below .500.
Now, the good news. The Los Angeles Dodgers. They're relevant again. They're in first place in the NL West even though Matt Kemp, the best player in the game, has been hurt. They've brought Magic Johnson into the ownership suite. And they're fun to watch.
3. Justin Thomas finished a minus-4, tied with Kenny Perry (among others) for 46th in the Greenbrier Classic. How good is the former St. Xavier golfer going to be?
RICK BOZICH: Phil Mickelson missed the cut this weekend. Tiger Woods missed the cut this weekend. Justin Thomas made the cut this weekend. And then he played well on Saturday and Sunday, too.
This won't be the last time I write that paragraph. He proved it during his freshman year at Alabama. And he'll keep proving it. He can make all the shots, and he doesn't flinch. One of us will be going to Augusta and the U.S. Open to watch him play one day.
CRAWFORD: Going to have to agree with you again, Rick. I suspect we will follow him to Augusta, but I can tell you this: I've already followed him to Greensboro, N.C., where he made the cut in the Wyndham Championship -- at age 16.
I remember waiting for him in the clubhouse and a valet coming up to him and slapping him on the back after the third round, and Thomas saying, "I wasn't very good today." The valet just said, "Come on man. You're 16. I'm just happy you're here."
How many kids do you know who were offered a PGA courtesy car before they even had a driver's license? But this kid could always drive, and putt, and chip. The great thing is he hasn't been in a hurry, despite his early success. Thomas, the third-youngest guy ever to make a cut in a PGA Tour event, will write far more headlines than that.
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