Atlanta Braves: Home Sweet Home...But What About the Road?

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IMay 16, 2008

This season, the Atlanta Braves have been a tale of two teams. One dominant and the other, well, pathetic.

All throughout the history of sports, there has been a sort of team "bipolarism," where for instance one team will take on two very different persona's and you never really know which will show up at game time.

Sometimes this is brought on by a star player or team leader not being on the field or even for a number of baseball teams playing great against a righty or lefty and struggling with the other.

However, this year the Atlanta Braves have stumbled upon a bad case of "sports bipolarism." They are the best team in baseball when playing at home and the worst while playing on the road.

It has been quite baffling and is starting to become one of more talked about stories in baseball.

It is not uncommon for a team to do better at home than on the road. In fact, there are only six teams in the American League and just four in the National League with losing records at home.

However, home field advantage in major league baseball has never been fully comprehended. Football, hockey, and soccer (internationally speaking) all usually play in front of very intense crowds and a number of very intimidating venues.

This is hardly the case in baseball. Only a handful of stadiums are ever at capacity and even fewer have a true hostile environment.

Sure, the players may be a little more familiar with their field, the lighting set up, where the fences are etc., but it is very hard to pinpoint what makes a baseball team have a distinct advantage over another simply because of location.

For the Braves it has not just been a slight advantage this year. They are literally the best team in baseball while playing at home. 15-4 at "The Ted" in Atlanta, that's a .789 winning percentage.

They always seem to find a way to win while playing in the friendly confines of Turner Field. Tonight the Braves, who just returned from a 2-5 beating tour of Pennsylvania, only had three hits going into the sixth trailing 2-0.

They scrapped up two to tie it and then later on in the eighth, Mark Kotsay pushed across what became the winning run.

It was nothing spectacular, but why when in similar situations on the road, have they failed to produce?

Wednesday night in Philadelphia the Braves, down two in the ninth, scored one and then had two men on with Mr. Clutch, Jeff Francoeur at the plate only to see lazy fly ball caught at the last second to end the game.

That is the way the entire season has went for the Braves. Always finding ways to win while in Atlanta and always finding ways to blow the game or let it slip away while on the road.

That same team with the league best .789 winning percentage at home are just 6-16 on the road. A .272 winning percentage. It is truly baffling.

Yes, the Braves have suffered a number of injuries this season, but they don't seem to be playing much better or worse with out the regulars.

They have also had struggles winning in one-run-games.  However, those struggles are not nearly as bad while at the Ted.

Maybe the players really like sleeping in their own beds and spending time with their family (although many players do not live in Atlanta). Maybe they love playing in the Atlanta heat.

Maybe they like seeing themselves on major league baseball's largest HDTV in Turner Field. Or maybe they just love wearing white.

While I would love to think I have the answer, I can only raise questions, just like everyone else. Nothing explains this distinct difference of play in between games at Turner Field and away games. It just doesn't add up.

Even though the Braves are playing one of the wackiest seasons in recent memory, they are currently only two games out of first in the NL East.

If they continue with their current winning percentages, the Braves would end the season at 86-76. 49 more wins at home and 16 more on the road, if you really want to know.

That would more than likely put them at least a few games back from winning the division.  So it is absolutely necessary for the Braves to begin to win more on the road if they want to make it back to the playoffs this year.

One thing is for sure. If you're a bettin' man, don't bet for the Braves while they're on the road.  Don't bet against them in Atlanta, because as of now, there is no telling when the madness will stop.


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