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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Home field advantage set but mitigated because pitching dominates.

How quaint. The home field advantage in the 2016 tournament finals was determined last night in an exhibition game. This is the second time in the 18 month reign of commissioner Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer. Manfred inherits this embarrassment from his predecessor, former boss and benefactor, Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers (owner and commissioner concurrently for many years, lest we forget).

This should matter a lot because baseball is the only one of the three U.S. team sports to have non-uniform playing areas. This anomaly should provide teams with a huge home field advantage but it doesn't because the most important player changes from game to game: the starting pitcher.

Even in this time of super dominant relief pitchers who sometimes gang up and play for the same team, the starter will pitch the most and will always pitch to the top of the order at least once, something that none of the relief aces may face. Pitching dominates as it always has. That is documented by the fact that no batter since 1903, probably ever, has had a .500 batting average with more than about 42 at bats in a season.

The great duel between pitcher and batter is, and always has been, a myth. That's why the utter foolishness of awarding home field to the team from the winning conference in the All Star game played a bit past mid season doesn't really matter nearly as much as it would in a team sport with fewer oddities from its origins in the 1800s.

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