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Souhan on Sports

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: All-Star Game rule had some value (and some Vikings thoughts)

Since news broke that MLB and the players have agreed to a new CBA, I've seen nothing but praise for the decision to rob the All-Star game of the power to decide home-field advantage for the World Series.

I get it. It was always an illogical arrangement.

But I'll defend the odd, now-defunct rule in a couple of ways.

Baseball still has the only All-Star game that matters, that looks something like the sport it is designed to celebrate. It is the only All-Star game among the major sports where the defense is fully engaged and competitive.

During the '90s and early 2000s, when I covered an All-Star game you could see and hear players plotting their early exit. They would leave after the fourth or fifth inning if they could to catch a flight. Their attitudes made the game feel meaningless.

Attached World Series home-field advantage changed that, gave the players reason to care about the outcome, instilled peer pressure from teams hopeful of making the World Series.

And because home-field advantage only truly gives an advantage to the "home'' team if the series reaches seven games, it rarely proved decisive.

Only once since 2002 has the home team won a Game 7 in the World Series - in 2011, when the Cardinals won in St. Louis.

So while the rule was widely reviled, it actually served its purpose and didn't upset competitive balance in the Series. So in a way, I'll miss it.

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Here are the three players I"ll be watching most closely tonight when the Vikings play the Cowboys:

-Linval Joseph: The Vikings' early-season defensive dominance started with excellent play against the run. That has slipped of late, which has led to the Vikings' defense failing to put opponents in obvious passing downs. That has reduced the effectiveness of the Vikings' pass rush and left an undersized defense playing too many snaps and getting beaten up and worn down.

The Vikings' best chance to stop the Cowboys powerful running game is for Joseph to turn in a dominant performance. It's not likely, given the size and quality of the Cowboys' line, but it's necessary.

-Harrison Smith: He has not been himself during the Vikings' struggles. The Vikings have listed him with ankle injuries but I've been led to believe he is trying to hide an upper-body injury that has made it difficult for him to hit with full force or wrap up when he tackles. He'll need to be at his run-stopping best to give the Vikings a chance to night, and I don't know if he's physically capable of playing at his best right now.

-Stefon Diggs: He should play tonight but his injuries may leave him at less than 100 percent, and the only way the Vikings' short-passing game is going to work is if he's capable of not only catching a lot of passes, but breaking a lot of tackles.

Today's stupid prediction: Cowboys 29, Vikings 20.

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We're running the VikingUpdate Show as a pregame show tonight at Hell's Kitchen from 4:15-5:15. Hell's is at 9th and Nicollet and there is cheap parking in the Metro Ramp above the restaurant on 9th. Please stop by or listen later at MNSPN.com.

@Souhanstrib

Vikings Rapid Reaction

For all of the Vikings problems, if they had beaten Arizona and Detroit in a five-day stretch they would have taken control of the division. Their last-second loss to Detroit means the rest of the year will be a struggle.

Now they face an excellent Dallas team with a chance to fall to .500 and bring the Packers back into the race.

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