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East Meets West Road Trips
by Bryan Leonard - 08/07/2007
One area of baseball betting I sometimes look at is the length of road trips. It's not always easy for athletes to cross time zones. It can throw off body chemistry and habits, such as getting up at 8 AM when your body believes it's 5 AM. Subtle things like this can make a difference in how much rest/sleep a players has, potentially influencing their performance. Understand that professional athletes need their body to be in tip-top shape to compete at such a high level. Having body clock chemistry altered, or too little sleep, can hinder peak performance.
Many times baseball teams will set out on road trips flying across the country. Look at the first extensive road trip that the Milwaukee Brewers took in May. They got off to a hot start to take over first place, even winning 9 of 10 games during a 10-game home stand. Then came a road trip to LA and San Diego, crossing several time zones. The Brewers went from being dominant at home to being pushed around, losing 5 of 6 on the trip, including 5 in a row.
The Florida Marlins just concluded a West Coast trip, losing the first 6 games on the journey to Arizona and San Francisco. Being in the Southeast part of the US, the Marlins have to take longer road trips than teams situated in the middle of the country.
I heard a radio interview with a baseball player last season and he made a joke with the announcer about how tired he was at a recent game: "You try catching a plane at 1 AM and then trying to play ball the next afternoon." This is something few of us think about with respect to the life of a pro athlete, but travel time, changing time zones, and having sleep disrupted is a regular part of their life.
Perhaps the best example of this came back in June when the high priced Yankees put together their first winning streak of the season, taking 11 of 12 games from the Pirates, White Sox, D-Backs and Mets. Of course, most of those games were at home. NY then took off on a West Coast trip to Colorado and San Francisco, then flew across the country to play Baltimore. The road trip was a disaster, getting swept in Denver, then losing 2 out of 3 to both the Giants and Orioles.
A year ago I recall the Red Sox making their first road trip out to Seattle in May, and they proceeded to give up 14 runs in a loss. They ended up 2-4 on the road trip out West. That happened right after an 8-1 run. In fact, they went 2-8 in ten road games during a 13-game stretch.
A similar thing happened back in June when the Red Sox were scheduled to play a Sunday night ESPN home game against the Yankees, then fly to Oakland, all the way across the country, and play the next day. They lost the first three games in Oakland.
Check out the home/road records of most teams and you will find a stark disparity in many. It's not just that a team feels comfortable in its own ballpark. Having to travel a long way can alter an individual and a team's overall effectiveness.