Home Field Turning Into a Must for the Yankees

patrick bohnCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2009

NEW YORK - AUGUST 12:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees is hit with shaving cream by teammate A.J. Burnett #34 after hitting the game winning single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the MLB game on August 12, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  The Yankees won 4-3 in 11 innings. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Normally, I think there's too much emphasis placed on home-field advantage. Most players and coaches will tell you it only really matters in the last game of a series, and besides, if you're a good team, you should be able to win on the road right?

How many times do you see a series go the distance where the home team wins every game? The list is pretty small when you consider all the series being played.

So I usually roll my eyes at analysts who spout off about the importance of home field advantage in the playoffs. I mean, everyone's better at home right? With the exception of the Phillies and the Diamondbacks, every team in Major League Baseball has a better record at home.

And the Yankees have the second best road record in the American League, so it's not like they're slouches away from the Bronx.

But right now, the Yankees look almost unbeatable at home. Since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup on May 8th and the Yankees essentially became the team you'll see in the playoffs, New York has gone 35-11 at home, including today's walk-off win courtesy of Robinson Cano.

For those of us not inclined to doing math, that's a .761 winning percentage. It would equate to a 123-win season. The 1998 Yankees, arguably one of the best teams in recent baseball history, had a .765 winning percentage at home. This current Yankees team haven't lost consecutive home games in nearly two months.

Any time you find yourself favorably compared to the 1998 Yankees, you're doing something right.

And those wins have come against some solid competition. Sweeps of Boston and Detroit, and series wins over Texas and Tampa Bay highlight the recent run.

Home-field is even more important for New York because the Angels are likely to be in the postseason. Since the start of 2005, the Yankees have gone 4-20 in Anaheim, including the playoffs.

The Yankees will not beat the Angels in the playoffs if they do not have home field. They're more likely to win a series in the Kingdome.

Sure, the Angels are the American League's best road team, and the Yankees don't play them well anywhere. But there's no way anyone on that team wants to play in a must-win game out there, locker room cliches of, "This team can win anywhere" be dammed.

Currently, the Yankees hold a one game lead over Anaheim in the loss column. The two teams play four more times in the regular season, including a three game series in Anaheim, Sept. 21-23. That series could very well determine who has home-field advantage in the American League.

The way the Yankees are playing at home right now, that might be enough to get them back to the World Series.