How “Home Field Advantage” Worked Against the A’s


Disclaimer: In this article, I am the playing the role of a “sore loser” who is ticked off at MLB for creating a flawed playoff format. That’s right, at least I had the guts to admit it.

Oct 7, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Don Kelly (32) is swarmed by teammates after hitting a game winning sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of game two of the 2012 ALDS against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park. Detroit won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Yes, this may be the only case in the history of the MLB postseason where home field advantage has actually worked against a team.

Due to the last-minute addition of a second wild card team, the “home team” in the first round of the postseason actually has to play its first two games on the road, followed by three games at home to close out the series.

The A’s were the number two seed in the AL coming in to the playoffs, so they had to travel to frigid Detroit and play the third-seeded Tigers on the road. Evidently, that did not go well as they dropped both games over the weekend. 

Oakland now will return home facing a steep road ahead of them; they must sweep the three games at home in order to advance to the ALCS.

One can only imagine how different this series would be at this point if the regular format was in place. Normally, the best-of-five ALDS is played in a 2-2-1 format, with the home team playing the first two games and the last game on its home turf.

If the first two games were played at the Coliseum, how would things have gone?

In Game 1 on Saturday, the A’s were down 3-1 in the eighth inning. Brandon Moss stepped up with a man on base and launched a fly ball to right that was caught right at the base of the wall by Andy Dirks.

If that ball was hit at the Coliseum at night, it would have been a home run and tied the game at 3-3. Instead, the frigid Detroit weather made all the difference, as the ball fell just a hair short of a home run.

The A’s failed to score in the eighth, and Jose Valverde closed things out in the ninth to seal give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the series.

Game 2 is a lot more easier to break down, simply because the Tigers won in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off. If this game was played in Oakland, Detroit would have scored the run in the top half of the ninth, allowing the A’s to have a chance to bat in the bottom of the inning.

But because the Tigers were the “home” team, Oakland never got that chance, and Game 2 went to the Tigers as well.

Please note that I am not taking anything away from the Detroit Tigers at all. They played extremely well, and deserved both of their victories.

But I am disappointed in Major League Baseball for setting up this ridiculous scenario of giving the worse team the first two games of the series.

Everybody knows that the first two games usually sets the tone of a playoff series, especially in a best-of-five. So why shouldn’t the better team (in this case, the A’s) get to play those games on their home field?