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Baseball Road Trips
by Bryan Leonard - 05/29/2006
Itâ€™s essential for sports handicappers to understand the significance of home and road play. Teams in all sports usually play significantly better at home than on the road for a variety of reasons. Think about all the inconveniences when you travel on the road: Time spent driving to the airport, parking, luggage, a plane ride through different time zones, red-eye flights means having your sleep interrupted, not knowing your way around an unfamiliar city, practicing in different gyms with lighting and temperature conditions youâ€™re not used to.
I recall a major league player a few years ago talking about how he simply couldnâ€™t sleep on airline flights, which is common with a lot of people. That would be an extra burden on a professional athlete, who makes his living by having his physical gifts in pristine condition. Not having enough sleep could very easily put a pro athlete at 85% physically than 100%, a significant drop when your job requires the hand/eye coordination to smack a 90 MPH fastball into the outfield!
Notice that the Baltimore Orioles most recent hot streak came when they won 4 of 6 games. Take a look at the schedule and you find that all those games were at home. Now take a look at their current losing streak, losing 4 of 6 games, and you notice that all those games were on the road. This weekend the Birds are in LA, nearing the end of a 10-game road trip.
Remember when the Phillies suddenly got hot a few weeks ago? Take a look at the schedule and you find they won 7 of 8 games at home during that run. Then they turned around and lost 7 of 8 games: 5 of those losses were on the road. Make sure you look carefully at a teamâ€™s schedule each day. If a team is hot, see if that correlates with a home stand. If that team is suddenly going on a road trip, perhaps they might be overvalued, a time to back off them or look to go against them.
Perhaps no team better illustrates this than the KC Royals. While they are 8-15 at home, they are a horrendous 2-20 on the road! The Astros and Brewers are also interesting to examine, as they have been awesome at home, but completely different teams on the road. Both started 17-9 at home, but both are 7-14 on the road.
On the Brewers last road trip they went out West and promptly lost 5 of 6 at San Diego and LA. They immediately came home and WON 5 of 6 games over two of the top teams in the NL, the Mets and Phillies. Watch the Brewers for the next week as they just started a 10-game road trip.
The Cubbies big slump started when they went on a 9-game road trip and went 1-8. This week they finished up a 6-game road trip losing 5 of 6. Chicago is 10-10 at home in Wrigley Field, but a poor 10-18 on the road. Yes, the schedule-maker can play a key role in the fortunes of a team, so study you stats, injury reports, and weather conditions each day, and donâ€™t ignore that schedule.