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This Time It Counts... And Counts... And Counts... AL 4, NL 3

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This is the sixth year since Bud Selig decreed that the All-Star Game result would determine home field in the World Series.

And you know what? In the previous five years it hasn't made a single bit of difference. The AL won the World Series in 2004, 2005 and 2007, and all of those were four-game sweeps, so each team had two home games. And the NL won the World Series in 2003 and 2006 without the home-field advantage -- in 2003, each team had three home games, and in 2006, the winning Cardinals played three games on the road and two at home. (And note, no World Series in this time period has gone the full seven games.)

Now, in 2008, when home field seems to be more of an advantage than ever before in major league baseball -- at the All-Star break, only three teams, the Cardinals, the Phillies and the Angels, have winning records on the road -- maybe the AL's 15-inning, 4-3 win over the NL will make a difference in the World Series result. But that's far from certain, so save your angst, especially since it's also far from certain what teams will be playing beginning Wednesday, October 22 in the AL city.

About the game itself, since it went into those long extra innings -- tying the ASG record for innings and becoming the longest one by time -- I didn't see anything past the 9th inning, when Ryan Dempster struck out the side (Cubs pitchers looked good last night, Cubs hitters, not so much). Seeing replays this morning, it appeared that Dioner Navarro got his foot to the plate just before he was tagged in the 11th inning, so the game could have ended an hour earlier than it did. And Justin Morneau looked like he got tagged just before he scored the eventual winning run -- so the worst night last night was had by plate umpire Derryl Cousins.

What I really want to talk about was the pregame introductions, done in a way we've never seen before. 49 Hall of Famers stood near the positions they played, including the nearly 86-year-old Ralph Kiner and nearly 90-year-old Bob Feller, taking perhaps their last bows on a national stage. They were joined by the starting players for last night's game, reminding all of us how baseball connects generations. Joe Buck, replacing 97-year-old Yankee Stadium PA announcer Bob Sheppard, who was too ill to attend, said that it was the greatest collection of baseball talent ever assembled in one place. Buck, as are most Fox announcers, is prone to hype, but for once, saying that wasn't. Parades are silly when it comes to events like this, but the pregame introductions were all baseball. It was nice to see Cub Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks among the contingent -- but that only made me lament Ron Santo's absence from the third base group; he belongs, and perhaps next year he will join them.

Now we rest for a couple of days -- eight teams resume the schedule tomorrow (including the Cardinals), and the Cubs and the rest on Friday. Let the real games begin. The best is yet to come.