By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The "This Time it Counts" format that awards home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league in the All-Star Game hasn't been approved yet, but it is on track, a Major League Baseball official said on Tuesday.
Even though MLB and the Players Association haven't formally extended the deal into its fourth season, the matter was addressed on Tuesday morning at a weekly staff meeting conducted in New York by Bob DuPuy, MLB's vice president and chief operating officer, and no one in the Commissioner's office exhibited any concern.
"It isn't signed, sealed and delivered yet, but we expect that it will be," said Rich Levin, an MLB senior vice president, when reached by phone in New York.
The format was adopted in 2003, a year after the All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both teams ran out of pitching. The original deal was for two seasons, and it was extended in negotiations with the union last year. That extension also came only weeks before the game, which was held in Detroit, Levin said.
This year's All-Star Game is scheduled for July 11 at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, also said that he wasn't concerned about the issue.
"I don't expect it to be a problem, but it still isn't done yet," said Orza, when reached by phone in New York.
Orza said that the matter has been entwined in ongoing collective bargaining negotiations for a new basic agreement, which expires on Dec. 19. For the long term, the format could be memorialized in the new agreement. But for right now, the two sides simply need to agree on this year.
"We're trying to make it a discrete item, but there are points that need to be ironed out," Orza said. "There's still some resistance from the players about it. We're trying to work that all out."
In the years since the format was adopted, the American League has won all three All-Star Games. The American League's home-field advantage has not figured in each of the past three World Series. In 2003, the Marlins won in six games over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, capturing their second World Series title. In 2004 and 2005, the Red Sox and White Sox swept the Cardinals and Astros, respectively.