Jul 18, 2013, 4:01 PM PST
This time, it didn’t count. In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re looking back on the 2002 All-Star Game debacle at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The game ended in an 11-inning, 7-7 tie, leaving Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig with egg on his face in his hometown.
As a result, Selig overcompensated by making future All-Star Games determine home field advantage in the World Series. Seeing as how the team with home field advantage has won 23 of the last 28 World Series titles, the All-Star Game, essentially an exhibition game, now decides the majority of the league’s championships.
Since the rule change, the American League has won home field advantage eight times, compared to three times for the National League.
Major League Baseball history may have been forever altered on one play in the bottom of the first inning. AL starter Derek Lowe gave up a deep fly ball to Barry Bonds that looked like a home run, but center fielder Torii Hunter made a spectacular leaping catch at the wall to rob the Giants slugger.
Bonds would later hit a two-run home run to give the NL a 4-0 lead, but the AL would eventually rally for four runs on a rally capped by a two-run double from Paul Konerko in the seventh inning.
In the bottom half of the seventh, the NL took back the lead on a Lance Berkman two-run single. The AL answered with a game-tying RBI triple by Omar Vizquel that made it a 7-7 game.
After a scoreless ninth inning, the All-Star Game went into extra innings. With very anxious baseball officials looking on, Vicente Padilla and Freddy Garcia, the last available pitchers on their respective teams, each threw a scoreless 10th inning. Padilla held the AL scoreless in the top of the 11th, forcing a difficult decision.
At this point, Selig was caught between a rock and a hard place. AL manager Joe Torre and NL manager Bob Brenly met on the mound with Selig to figure out what to do, but they didn’t have any realistic options. The decision was made that if the NL didn’t score in the bottom of the 11th, the game would be declared a tie.
With a runner in scoring position for the NL, Garcia struck out Benito Santiago looking to end the game in a tie. The sellout crowd of 41,871 at Miller Park and the millions watching at home were outraged.
“I tried to think of any alternative out there, but they were out of players,” Selig told MLB.com. “We’ll have to review if we expand rosters or something so we avoid this in the future. This is not the ending I had hoped for.”
MLB decided to expand All-Star rosters from 32 players to 33, to make sure an extra pitcher is available. They also decided to make the game count.
There was no winner that day. They didn’t even select an All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. For all the drama surrounding the 2002 All-Star Game, it is worth pointing out that it was the second time the game ended in a tie. The 1962 Midsummer Classic ended in a 1-1 tie.
2002: Bay Area All-Stars
Barry Zito, SP
Miguel Tejada, SS
Barry Bonds, OF
Robb Nenn, RP
Benito Santiago, C
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