MLB's Hardest Places to Play During the Dog Days of Summer

Zachary Petersel@@ZPeterselFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2012

MLB's Hardest Places to Play During the Dog Days of Summer

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    As we head into the dog days of summer and the smell of the playoffs permeates the air, fans get more into each home game and certain places get harder to play.

    Baseball is unlike just about every other sport in that it is hard to define a home-field advantage for any specific team. You don't find fans with faces painted like you would in soccer, football or even the NHL, or any team-specific rally chants that you would see in college games. 

    However, that does not mean that certain stadiums are not harder to play when compared to others. Certain things such as average attendance and park factors, which show stadiums where more runs and hits are scored, dictate what stadiums are more difficult for opposing teams.

    Here are 10 of the hardest places to play during the dog days of summer. 

Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park

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    Home Record: 29-34

    Attendance: Second best (101.5 percent full)

    Despite having an incredibly disappointing season, Red Sox fans have not wavered. 

    Earlier this season, Boston set the U.S. sports record with their 745th consecutive sellout back in June and even though the Sox are still 6.5 games out of the Wild Card race, the fans continue to come to the ballpark and root for their team. 

    A stadium packed with hard-core fans that know their baseball is an intimidating place to play, and that is exactly what Fenway Park is. Add to that the Green Monster, which is unlike any other left field in the game, and you have one of the toughest places for opposing teams to play.

Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park

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    Home Record: 26-33

    Attendance: Best (101.9 percent full)

    The Phillies are another team who came into the season with tremendous expectations but have failed in every regard to live up to them. 

    However, akin to the Red Sox, the fans have continued to show their support. 

    While their NL record of 257 consecutive sellouts ended two weeks ago, the City of Brotherly Love certainly knows how to make it difficult for the opposing teams.

    The opponents' bullpen is strategically placed above the Philly pen so fans can talk to the visiting players ever so politely while the Philly Phanatic pumps up the crowd to create the hostile environment that is Citizens Bank Park.

San Francisco Giants: AT&T Park

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    Home Record: 35-26

    Attendance: Third best (99.6 percent full)

    With the recent success that has enveloped the Giants, fans have come out in flying colors and made AT&T Park a very tough place to play.

    Right field is a torture to play with a high wall and a bunch of abnormal caroms that are impossible to predict, not to mention deep left-center and center-field gaps that make it difficult for teams to hit home runs.

St. Louis Cardinals: Busch Stadium

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    Home Record: 36-25

    Attendance: Fourth best (93.4 percent full)

    The Cardinals' fanbase is often regarded as one of the top groups in all of sports.

    With a fantastic baseball history going back through Bob Gibson in the 1960s, Stan Musial in the '40s and '50s, all the way back to Frankie "The Fordham Flash" Frisch in the '30s, the fanbase has never left. 

    Not only are they one of the toughest teams on the field to play against, but year in and year out they are among the league leaders in attendance, which creates a tough place for opposing teams to try to steal a series. 

Texas Rangers: Ballpark in Arlington

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    Home Record: 36-22

    Attendance: 8th best (88.7 percent full)

    Ever since Nolan Ryan took over in the front office and Josh Hamilton arrived from Cincinnati, the buzz in Texas has never been higher, and the team's performance at home certainly has not hurt the cause. 

    The Rangers have the best home record in the American League and are looking to make their third consecutive World Series this fall. In a town known for America's football team, Texas has become a place that no baseball team wants to go.

Cincinnati Reds: Great American Ballpark

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    Home Record: 39-21

    Attendance: 17th best (68.5 percent full) 

    Over the past few seasons, the Reds were known for one of the most powerful and efficient offenses in baseball, taking advantage of their home field whenever possible. 

    This season however, Cincinnati's pitching staff has taken their game to a new level.

    Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto have led the Reds' staff to the third best ERA in baseball despite playing in the league's second best home run hitters park.

    Even though Joey Votto went down with a serious knee injury in mid-July, the Reds have maintained the best home record in all of baseball and will be one of the toughest places to play as we head toward October.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Dodgers Stadium

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    Home Record: 33-25

    Attendance: 13th best (73.9 percent full)

    This stadium is more of a prognosis for down the stretch, as so far this season the Dodgers fanbase has only filled up roughly three-quarters of the stadium. While that is the fifth most fans on a per-game basis, it shows there is still potential for a greater home-field advantage.

    With Magic Johnson and Co. now leading the way for LA, that potential will be fulfilled sooner rather than later.

    The fan base has proven in the past it can be one of the most passionate in all of sports, and the acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino in addition to their place atop the NL West division will pack Dodgers Stadium and make it a much tougher place to play. 

Detroit Tigers: Comerica Park

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    Home Record: 34-23

    Attendance: Fifth best (91.4 percent full)

    After a lackluster start to the season, the Tigers have finally started clicking.

    They already draw the seventh most fans on a per-game basis, not to mention the seventh best home record, so it is already a very tough place to play for opposing teams.

    From here on out, it is only going to get tougher as the Tigers make their climb for the Central Division crown.

Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field

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    Home Record: 30-28

    Attendance: Sixth best (89.8 percent full)

    The Cubs have the third worst record in baseball, sitting at 46-70 going into Saturday's action, so it is clear that not much is going right in the North Side this year.

    Having said that, for the fans who have stayed true and come out to Wrigley this year, more often than not they left hearing go Cubs go! as Chicago's home record is a more than respectable 30-28.

    Despite the overall struggles, the aura of Wrigley still exists and the fans are as passionate as ever. It is still intimidating for young players to come into that environment, especially as the season wears on and the games get even more important.

New York Yankees: Yankee Stadium

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    Home Record: 38-23

    Attendance: Ninth Best (86.4 percent full)

    Even though they no longer play in "the house that Ruth built," the Yankees still have the greatest home field advantage in all of baseball. 

    Not only do they have the best tradition in all of sports, but they perennially field one of the top teams in the game and that in itself is intimidating. This season, their 37-23 record at home is the best mark in the American League.

    Furthermore, the new Yankee Stadium has ranked in the top 10 in home runs per game in every year of its existence, so pitchers often change their repertoire when pitching there.

    The stadium is always full, the fans that are there are rowdy and knowledgeable, and the team on the field is always great. For opposing teams and players, Yankee Stadium is by far the toughest place to place in the dog days of summer.