MEETINGS Owners OK home-field edge to All-Star winner



Now its up to the players to decide if the All-Star game winner gets home-field in the Series.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Now it's up to baseball players to decide if the All-Star game winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
Owners unanimously approved the change Thursday as their two-day meeting ended.
"This energizes it. This gives them something to really play for," commissioner Bud Selig said after the 30-0 vote. "People pay a lot of money to see that game. They deserve to see the same intensity they see all year long. Television people pay a lot of money for the game. It was not and should not be a meaningless exhibition game."
Home field has rotated between the American and National leagues since the World Series began in 1903, and the team hosting Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 has won 15 of the last 17 titles and the last eight Series that went a full seven games.
Last year's mess
Owners made the change following last year's mess in Milwaukee, when both teams ran out of pitchers and the All-Star game ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie. Management officials say Fox, which holds baseball's television rights, was strongly in favor of the proposal.
Some players have voiced opposition.
"That's crazy. You've got the All-Star game with players from different teams. I don't think that's right," said Chicago White Sox catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., a six-time All-Star. "That's totally ludicrous."
Alomar was MVP of the 1997 All-Star game at Cleveland, and was a member of the Indians team that lost Game 7 of that year's World Series at Florida -- which would have been played at Jacobs Field under the new rule.
The union said it's not sure of its stance, but it appears management and Fox has work ahead to convince players to accept the change.
"We appreciate what they're trying to do," said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official. "We'll talk to the players and get a more widespread reaction than we've gotten so far. We'll also talk to the networks. It's not problem-free, but nothing in this sport is."
Management can't understand any opposition.
"Their arguments are kind of hollow, whatever they are," Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo said.
Keep players in reserve
Selig also will have his staff direct the All-Star managers to keep players in reserve in case the game goes extra innings and urge them to keep starting pitchers in the game longer.
In other news, baseball's committee on the future of the Montreal Expos will start contacting communities interested in acquiring the team to set up meetings. Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Portland, Ore., are the leading candidates to obtain the franchise, which is among the poorest draws in the major leagues.
"We'll be ready when they are," said Bobby Goldwater, president of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission.
Selig will issue a directive establishing 14 as the minimum age for batboys, a move that takes away the job of 3-year-old Darren Baker, who nearly got into a collision during the World Series.

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