The All-Star Game is three weeks away. But it is not too soon for the American League manager to ponder ways to maximize the talent on hand and defeat the National League, again.Ned Yost, manager of the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, has lived the home-field advantage in
The All-Star Game is three weeks away. But it is not too soon for the American League manager to ponder ways to maximize the talent on hand and defeat the National League, again.
Ned Yost, manager of the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, has lived the home-field advantage in the last two World Series.
Maybe it didn't matter where Madison Bumgarner pitched when he led the Giants to victory over the Royals in the 2014 Fall Classic. But last year, with the AL once again enjoying home-field advantage, the Royals defeated the Mets in five games for their first World Series triumph in 30 years.
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Two facts support the importance of home-field advantage. Since home-field advantage in the Series has been awarded to the league winning the All-Star Game, nine of 13 of the teams with that advantage have won the World Series.
And as a bonus in the specific case of Kansas City, the Royals have the best home record in the Majors, a highly impressive 25-8.
"Does it make a difference? It does for us," Yost said of home-field advantage. "If you've ever been to a playoff game in Kansas City, you know that it makes a big difference for us. It's big, it's big for us. You get down to the end of the season and you're playing a big series, you want that home-field advantage, you want the fans behind you, you want to sleep in your own bed. It's important."
With that in mind, Yost and his coaching staff will be looking at available personnel and various routes to victory in the Midsummer Classic.
"We've already started looking at guys and who can help us win this thing, because it's important," Yost said. "We were lucky enough to do that last year. For me, you take that matter very seriously.
"I've got a board in my office with the guys on it. Right now, we're waiting on the fan voting to see who the starters will be, and then we'll be waiting on the players' vote to see who the players vote in. And then we go from there and complete the team with pieces that we feel will help us win that game.
"We've already got a strategy in the way we want to run the game. We think we can win the game. We just have to wait and see who the players are now."
For last year's All-Star Game, Yost initially had four selections, but then received more as players dropped out to injuries. "You've got to have Plan A, B and C here," Yost says. "Things happen right at the tail end and you've got to go from there."
"As soon as we get the final results from the fan voting and the player voting, we all get together. We spent hours last year, in the room, looking at the board, trying to make sure that we get the right players, that they're deserving and the right spots to help us win. Those can be some pretty important picks."
Yost's emphasis on this game will be aided by the fact that he will probably have a sizable contingent of Royals on the AL All-Star roster. There will likely be three Royals starters on the team, and the Kansas City bullpen will fill more roster spots, no matter who selects them.
The Royals, in the World Series the past two years, can take this home-field issue personally. But by this time, everybody in the league ought to be able to grasp the home-field perspective.
"Somebody in that room [the AL All-Star clubhouse] is going to benefit from it," Yost said.
Yost did not, of course, reveal the nature of Plan A, B or C. But the record says that planning, plotting, strategizing around the All-Star Game are activities well worth the effort.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com.