Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do the New York Yankees now have a home-field disadvantage?

Something struck me last night when watching the Yankees-Astros game -- how quiet the ballpark was (other than the booing of David Robertson, of course!) The crowd wasn't very loud, even when the Yankees were scoring runs. And after Robertson blew the save, and after the crowd was done booing, you could have heard a pin drop for the rest of the game, it was so quiet. It was if everybody knew in their hearts that this offense wouldn't be able to make up that three-run deficit, so there was no point in vocalizing anything, let alone cheers to rouse the team in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It wasn't that long ago that playing at home was considered a big advantage for the Bronx Bombers. Yet this year, the Yankees' won-loss record is actually below .500 at home!

Here are the Yankee Stadium III wins/losses breakdowns and winning percentages since 2009, when the Stadium opened:

Overall Record: 103-59, .636
Home Record:  57-24, .704
Away Record:     46-35, .568

Overall Record:   95-67, .568
Home Record:  52-29, .642
Away Record:     43-38, .531

Overall Record:    97-65, .599
Home Record:   52-29, .642
Away Record:      45-36, .556

Overall Record:   95-67, .586
Home Record:   51-30, .630
Away Record:     44-37, .543

Overall Record:   85-77, .525
Home Record:  46-35, .568
Away Record:     39-42, .481

Overall Record:   63-60, .512
Home Record:  29-30, .492
Away Record:     34-30, .531 

Look at those numbers. Even when the Yankees only won 85 games last year, their winning percentage at home was still significantly better than their away record. This year, not so much.

If the Yankees are going to have any smidgen of a chance to make the playoffs (and I don't think they will -- they have the toughest schedule of any MLB team going into the last quarter of the year, and they don't have good hitters), they need to win at home. They have 21 games left in their own ballpark, as opposed to 17 away games. 

Michael Kay criticized the fans for booing Robertson last night, and in turn, he got criticized by Yankee fans for doing so. But I agree with Kay on this (and was on his radio show a few months ago when I called in on this very subject of fans booing their own players; my point was just because you can do something like booing, doesn't mean you should!) Not only have I been consistent against Yankee fans doing this, but David Robertson has been terrific all year, and last night was a rare misstep. If you really expected him to be this good, raise your hand, because I sure didn't. And what does he get in return for being great? Some Yankee fans turning on him like that.

Look, I get the frustration in Yankeeland. I am just as frustrated as anyone. But I think that the boos and the lack of support and the other stupid things some Yankee fans have done this year (the worst: the way Robinson Cano was tricked and then booed) may have a little something to do with the Yankees having an even worse record at home than they do in away games this year.

I also think it's odd that a fan base who puts so much stock in jinxes and superstitions and ghosts would tempt the baseball gods that way. (Not to mention my strong suspicion that the house mikes were turned at full blast to amplify the already loud anti-Cano boos even further on the broadcast!)

There is no home field advantage anymore at Yankee Stadium this year; it is more like a home field disadvantage. It is generally commonly accepted conventional wisdom that the new Yankee Stadium is just not as loud as the old ballpark. But there just doesn't seem to be much of a good vibe anymore in the ballpark, something that was evident even in the new Stadium. And other than the good vibes in the house when players like Derek Jeter are going to be feted on their special days, I don't know what is going to change that in the near future.

This is not a good team, but I don't think the booing is helping.

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