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Home-field edge back in the hands of Junior Circuit

NEW YORK -- The American League is headed home. Fresh off a 3-0 victory in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, the AL will have home-field advantage when the season matters most: The World Series.

Major League Baseball has now played 11 times since a 7-7 tie in the 2002 edition of the All-Star Game. After that tie, MLB changed the rules so that the winning league of the All-Star Game would have an advantage in the World Series.

And how has that affected the game? The winning league has gone on to win the World Series in seven of the last 10 years, but only one of those Fall Classics went the distance. And in that one, a win for the Cardinals over Texas in 2011, home-field advantage turned out to be decisive.

St. Louis split the first two games at home in that series, and it went back to Busch Stadium trailing Texas by a 3-2 margin. The Cardinals scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth in Game 6 and went on to win in 11 innings, and they came back the next night to beat Texas by a 6-2 score.

This time it counts
Since 2003, when the league that won the All-Star Game gained home-field advantage in the World Series, the winning circuit ended up winning the Fall Classic seven of 10 times.
Year ASG winner WS home-field WS winner
2008 AL TB PHI
2010 NL SF SF
2012 NL SF SF

"I think that it's a nice touch," AL manager Jim Leyland said Monday of home-field advantage. "You win this game, you do get that. I think you do live by the old saying, there's no place like home. I think that pretty much sums that up. It statistically says that it does give you an advantage."

National League manager Bruce Bochy had his own thoughts on the subject. Bochy's Giants beat Leyland's Tigers in the 2012 World Series, and he said Monday that being home made a difference.

"Like Jimmy said, there's no place like home," Bochy said. "We got off to a good start because of having home-field advantage. There's just a sense of comfort for the players. Particularly when you're in the playoffs and you have the pressure of performing like these players do, to start at home does give them, I think, a bit more confidence and the ability to relax a little bit."

Some interesting trends have developed in the past 11 years. The AL won seven straight All-Star Games after the rule change, but only four of those AL champions went on to win the World Series. The National League won three straight All-Star Games from 2010 to 2012, and it won the World Series in all three of those seasons. The AL, fresh off its victory, hopes to see that trend continue.

Four of the past 10 World Series have been decided by a series sweep, and three World Series saw the losing team win just one game. The series has gone back to the home field's turf for Game 6 or 7 just three times -- 2003, 2009 and 2011 -- since the rule change went into effect.

Leyland, whose Tigers were swept in last year's World Series by the Giants, made note of that fact at one point during Monday's press conference. He said he wasn't sure what that said about home field since the series only went four games, but he didn't want to let his AL brethren down.

"This is a tremendous game and we are going to do our best to win this game," said Leyland. "I think it's a combination of things. I think you want to see these great players showcase their talent. Yes, you're trying to win the game because of what's at stake now. And I think there's a lot of things involved in this game and I want to try to make it the total package for the American League."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for