When Texas Rangers All-Star Hank Blalock smacked the 3-1 fastball off of Dodger reliever Eric Gagne into the Chicago stands, it proved to be the decisive run in what was supposed to be the first All-Star game that really mattered. Although you won’t see Blalock, Gagne or even Orioles All-Star Melvin Mora (who was on second base pinch running for outfielder Garret Anderson) in the playoffs this October, you will certainly hear about Blalock, the hero of the American League. It is true that the home team in Game 7 has won the last two World Series, but it certainly doesn’t make Joe Buck’s claim that “home field means everything” true. Here are five things to consider before you pick the home team this postseason.


Atlanta has lost 14 of their last 17 playoff games at home.

The Braves enter the postseason with the best record in the Major Leagues at 101-61, easily clinching the division for the twelfth year in a row. However, Atlanta has only one World Series Championship to show for it, and it is in part due to their inability to win at home. Not only have they lost 14 of 17 home playoff games since the NLCS in 1998, they have also lost four of their last five postseason series overall. Home field won’t matter for the Braves again this year if their pitching can’t match up with the Cubs in the first round. Undoubtedly, the Braves have the best lineup in the National League, but

Chicago has a postseason rotation that is downright scary. Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior (a potential Cy Young winner) are a much more dominant trio than Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton and Greg Maddux no matter where they play, as Chicago comes into the series first in strikeouts (1,404) and third in ERA (3.83). While Russ Ortiz leads the NL in wins, he will not be able to rely on run support to win the matchup.

Prediction: Cubs win in 4.


New York has the best record in the majors on the road.

As painful as it is to admit, the Yankees will win their opening series against the Twins. This, however, has nothing to do with home field advantage. The Yankees could beat the Twins anywhere, and all the rally towels in the world won’t help the home team in the Metrodome. The Yankees dominated both at home and on the road this year, posting a 51-29 record outside of the Bronx. Additionally, they are 7-0 against the Twins this year and will start Mike Mussina in Game 1, who has a 20-2 lifetime record against Minnesota. Roger Clemens, who will start for New York in Game 3, has pitched better on the road this season, winning 10 while losing only two. The Twins will have to create a chance for themselves by holding the Yankees to three or fewer runs. The difference between three and four is much greater than one for the Yankees as they have won only 11 games this year scoring three or less. If they give up four runs, Minnesota’s chances will greatly diminish, as the Yankees have only lost 15 times scoring four or more. This means that Minnesota’s starters will have to go deep into games, and not allow the Yankees to tap into their bullpen early.

Prediction: New York in 3.


The Giants wouldn’t travel across the country to get it.

The most significant piece of evidence against the myth of home field advantage is the fact that the Giants conceded it to the Braves. At a glance, it would seem that San Francisco would want to stay at home as much as possible, given their league best 57-24 record at home. Their record going into the postseason is 100-61, while Atlanta’s is 101-61. The Giants are a half-game back in the win column because of an earlier rainout against the Mets: a game they were to make up in New York yesterday. With a win, San Francisco would have been tied with Atlanta for the best record in baseball, and with the tiebreaker in head-to-head meetings, the Giants would have secured home field advantage until the World Series. However, the Giants elected to not play in the game, conceding home field to the Braves. If home field mattered so much, why would the Giants elect to not fly across the country and try for it? Maybe they feel that Atlanta won’t get past the Cubs, so a potential NLCS would be played mostly by the Bay anyway. Even if Atlanta does step up and beat the Cubs, Atlanta still does not have an advantage at Turner Field. The Giants were right in their decision to take yesterday off.

Prediction: A well-rested Giants team wins in 4.


Despite their home record, the A’s are vulnerable since the loss of Mark Mulder.

Yes, Ted Lilly has gone 6-0 since Mark Mulder went down with a hip injury, but his contribution to the A’s along with Barry Zito and Tim Hudson are immeasurable. The A’s have won more games with one of those three on the mound than they have at home. Hudson is a contender for the Cy Young award, while Zito has pitched far better than his record indicates. Though he will likely not play, Mulder remains on the active list for the A’s, and doctors have said that he will not damage his hip further by pitching on it. Does this mean we may see him in the playoffs given the right moment? On the other side, Boston’s lineup is by far the most intimidating in the American League. If any lineup can tap A’s pitching, it’s Boston. Also, Pedro Martinez is still the least favorable pitcher for the A’s to face, even though Hudson dueled him in a gem earlier this year. With a career postseason ERA of 1.13, runs will come at a premium in game 1, with the winner likely going on to win the series.

Prediction: Mulder nurses injury, Boston wins in 5.


Do you see any monkeys or Thunder sticks?

Prediction: Lots more Cubs and Red Sox hats on campus.