By Mathew Hartley
The Toronto Blue Jays are still live and kicking in the 2015 postseason after defeating the Texas Rangers in games three and four in Arlington.
Toronto’s win sets up a pivotal game five matchup at home against Texas on Wednesday.
Across major league baseball this postseason, home fans have been stifled more often than not. Visiting teams take the ‘W’ over 60 per cent of the time.
There are many different factors that elevate playing at home over being on the road, including atmosphere, low travel and knowing your own ballpark, experts say.
Mental training expert Dr. Patrick Cohn said that a home crowd can have both positive and negative effects.
“Athletes view themselves as performers. At home you have added pressure of the crowd and you also have the crowd pulling for you. It can give you energy and adrenaline or in other cases, if [players] know friends and family are in the crowd, it can add pressure [on] them,” said Cohn.
Since the Jays have tied up their series, they still have one more pitfall to dodge with statistics favouring away teams. Traditionally, the away team has won game five of the ALDS 58 per cent of the time in the last decade.
Ryan Armstrong, Associate head coach at Toronto’s Baseball Zone, said that fans can still play a part in Wednesday night’s game.
“You can take [the crowd’s] energy and use it as motivation, but if they are down, fans have to stick with them because players can feel that.”
Armstrong also said that players should be used to high expectations by this point.
“They’ve got a sense of what the atmosphere is like. They can just play baseball instead of playing for an entire country,” he said.
Once teams get past the loaded coin-flip wild-card game and the best-of-five ALDS series, the numbers turn on their head.
The numbers show that when the players return to the home field for Championship Series, they’re more acclimated to oversized crowds and that comfort begins to outweigh the added expectation of 50,000 fans.
Home field advantage in the World Series should not be surprising as the junior and senior circuit rules compete against each other, with the home team winning over 60 per cent of games.
The use of a designated hitter for home American League teams gives way to the superior National League hitting pitchers on the road.
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