Home field matters to Manuel, Phillies

“This time it counts.” That’s the slogan MLB commissioner Bud Selig adopted for the Midsummer Classic in 2003. The premise was simple: The game’s winner earned home-field advantage in the World Series.

Simple enough. Maybe to everyone except the National League, which hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996.

Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, who gets his second straight shot at managing the NL tonight, said he hopes to turn those fortunes around.

“I wanted to win last year,” said Manuel. “You can have all the fun you want, but it’s more fun if you win it. It definitely means something. We’ve been in the World Series the last two years and, yeah, home field definitely means something.”

Manuel has been criticized for some of his moves, like leaving Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg off the roster. Yesterday, he announced that Ryan Howard would be starting and batting cleanup as the NL’s designated hitter. Manuel originally selected Howard over Cincinnati’s Joey Votto because Howard was “his guy.”

“Not only he’s my guy, but he has 119 at-bats against left-handed pitchers,” Manuel said. “He’s hit the most home runs probably of anyone in the National League the last three or four years.”

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