The Game 1 advantage
We know the opener matters, but what's less understood is that location doesn't
The Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and the open-roof jet stream at Miller Park combined for 15 runs in the opener of the NLCS (a 9-6 Milwaukee win), and the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers and the rain cloud that follows Justin Verlander wherever he goes lately yielded a 3-2 Texas victory in the ALCS.
And so the American League and National League championship series have unfolded similarly: The home team won Game 1.
There is, of course, a self-evident advantage to winning Game 1: The team that takes the opener needs to play merely .500 ball during the remainder of the series in order to advance. The team that loses Game 1, meanwhile, must win at least four of six, which is -- breaking news to follow -- substantially more difficult. In fact, over the sprawling history of the seven-game series in baseball, the Game 1 winner takes the series a shade less than 66 percent of the time.
But what happens when, as in the cases of the Brewers and Rangers, the team that wins Game 1 is also the team in possession of home-field advantage? Is the distinction significant?