KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday he is committed to keeping home-field advantage in the World Series attached to the winner of the All-Star Game, despite criticism from some that the reward is too great.
"I really like it," Selig said during his annual question-and-answer session with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
"We were at a point (in the past) where guys were leaving after the third inning. You were having a really hard time getting people (to play). I had two people, Henry Aaron and Ron Santo, in separate conversations, who said to me, 'You've got to put something back in the game. You've got to create meaning.'
"Is it perfect? There's no perfect solution. So, you take a game that's clearly the best of all the All-Star Games, and you give it some meaning. You watch the dugouts over the last 10 years, they're all there when the game is over; they care. Players come. The only guys mad are the guys who don't come."
Home-field advantage in the World Series was attached to the winning league in the All-Star Game after the 7-7 tie in Milwaukee in 2002, when the managers of the respective teams ran out of pitchers because they focused too much on getting everybody into the game.
As for the game itself, Selig said he was very encouraged that major-league attendance was at the 40 million mark at the break despite the difficult economic times.
"I can't tell you how happy I am," said Selig. "It's remarkable. With virtually half the season to go, we're set to have a really remarkable season.
"There will always be problems, there will always be situations. I learned that a long time ago. But if somebody had suggested this to me 10 years ago ... given our business, our sport on the field, I'm extremely grateful for where we are."
HARPER ACTS HIS AGE: Bryce Harper finally acted his age at the All-Star game.
The 19-year-old Washington Nationals phenom lost a fly ball in the lights and got hung up between second and third Tuesday night during the NL's 8-0 victory over the American League. At the plate, he was 0-for-1 with a strikeout and a walk.
Still, his gaffe in left field and rundown on the bases didn't stop Harper from savoring the moment.
"It was a lot of fun. It was a great game," he said.
The only All-Stars younger than Harper were a pair of 19-year-old pitchers: Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1984 and Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians in 1938.
That made Harper the youngest position player to be selected for an All-Star team, perhaps qualifying as much for his potential as for production. He was batting .282 at the break with eight homers and 25 RBIs.
Harper was among an All-Star-record five rookies this year, one more than in 2001 and 2003. The 2001 class is pretty distinguished — Albert Pujols, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Sheets and Ichiro Suzuki. In 2003, the rookies who made it were Lance Carter, Mike MacDougal, Hideki Matsui and Dontrelle Willis.
Among other rookies, 20-year-old Mike Trout of the Angels had a hit, a walk and a stolen base. Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks allowed a hit in one-third of an inning and Ryan Cook of the Athletics worked a scoreless inning.
"I'm going to remember this the rest of my life," Trout said.
SO LONG, CHIPPER: Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who has announced his intention to retire after the season, got a standing ovation from the crowd at Kauffman Stadium.
Many of the fans had never seen him play in person before.
In a strange quirk to interleague scheduling, the Braves have never played in Kansas City, so the eight-time All-Star was making his Kauffman Stadium debut. Jones entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and grounded a single past second baseman Ian Kinsler to another appreciative roar.
NL manager Tony La Russa suggested that Jones address the team before the game, and he took him up on the offer.
"We've won two. Win three, and that's a winning streak," Jones told the team. "We have an opportunity to do that tonight. And I am not going out losing my last one. So, you with me?"
Indeed, they were.
BILLY'S AT-BATS: Designated hitter Billy Butler, the Royals' lone All-Star representative, was given a standing ovation when he entered the game as a pinch hitter for David Ortiz in the seventh inning.
Butler grounded out to shortstop, but got another chance with Elvis Andrus on second base and one out in the ninth. After another ovation, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan struck out Butler.
The affable Butler may not have gotten his chance if not for Ortiz, who started the game as the AL's designated hitter. It was Ortiz who pushed manager Ron Washington to make the lineup change.
"Washington wanted me to take a third at-bat," Ortiz said after leaving the game, "but I said, 'Let my boy come in for his fans.'"
METS' PITCHER HAS SHOULDER SURGERY: New York Mets pitcher Dillon Gee has undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from an artery in his throwing shoulder.
The team said Tuesday no timetable has been set for the right-hander's return, but he will miss his next start and likely will be put on the disabled list.3 comments on this story
Gee complained of numb fingers on his right hand Sunday, a day after he pitched. Tests on Monday revealed the shoulder clot.
Doctors used a catheter to break up the clot. The 26-year-old pitcher will remain hospitalized for a day or two to make sure the problem is fully resolved.
Gee pitched eight innings of one-run ball in Saturday's 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. He was scheduled to start New York's first game after the All-Star break against the Braves.
He is 6-7 on the season with a 4.10 ERA and has been one of the Mets' most effective pitchers recently, with a 3.34 ERA over the last month.