What Is Home Field Advantage?
For those who don’t remember 1997, that was the Giants’ miraculous “Worst to First” season where Brian Sabean made his first splash by bringing in Jeff Kent, and the season of the Brian Johnson game. But despite being a division champion and gaining home field advantage while playing the wild card Florida Marlins*, the Marlins got to play the first two games in Miami. They won both, as well as Game 3 to clinch the series. That meant that despite the Giants having “home field advantage,” the Marlins got to play more games at home.
The rule was changed after that season to a 2-2-1 format. Many people** would call it the Giants Rule.
Now, the Giants may get the other side of the coin. Unless they pull it together and go on a tear, they’ll get to be the lower-seeded team that plays the first two games at home against the Reds. But is that a better thing in the end?
Lately, the Giants have been playing much better on the road, especially in the second half. They got swept by the Dodgers at home, but then swept the Dodgers in L.A. They’ve taken to Coors Field like the Rockies used to. Plus, the fans have long had an incredible presence on the road. But at home, they seem more prone to slumps and problems. And unlike any season before, the offense has died at home when they used to be able to take advantage of AT&T’s unique features.
That might be overthinking it, though. The Giants have great fans, and one of the most intimidating environments for visitors in baseball. Just about any park will sell out in the playoffs, but few fanbases are as rabid. Having that behind the Giants in any clinching games, whether its a possible clincher for San Francisco or the other guys, would be an amazing advantage.
But, on the other hand, maybe that doesn’t matter so much. The only possible clincher the Giants played in 2010, they lost to the Phillies. If you include trying to clinch the division in the final weekend of the regular season, the Giants lost two before finally doing it.
I don’t think you can logic this out. If I’m going to give any advice to the team, it’s this: try to win every game. Then, just deal with the results.
*-To be fair, the Marlins (92-70) did have a better record than the Giants (90-72) in 1997.
**-By many people, I mean a few dozen Giants fans. Probably. I think there was more than a dozen.