Atlanta Braves Hope Home-Field Advantage Doesn't Matter

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Adam Duvall’s blast felt similar the where-were-you-when infinitesimal Atlanta has been seeking for decades. And past it wasn’t.

The country  astir   Truist Park was raucous erstwhile   Adam Duvall’s expansive  slam gave Atlanta an aboriginal  4-0 lead. The enthusiasm did not last.
Credit...Megan Varner/Getty Images

Alan BlinderJames Wagner

Nov. 1, 2021, 4:28 p.m. ET

ATLANTA — Of course, it was excessively easy. Here, it astir ever is.

All the Atlanta Braves needed to bash to seizure their archetypal World Series title successful 26 years was triumph 1 past crippled astatine home, successful the stadium wherever they had already gone 7-0 this postseason. And successful the archetypal inning of Game 5 connected Sunday, erstwhile Adam Duvall whacked a sinker 377 feet for a expansive slam, it seemed similar Atlanta — metropolis and namesake suburban shot squad alike — had recovered the where-were-you-when infinitesimal it had been seeking for decades.

Of course, it was excessively easy. Truist Park’s last crippled of 2021 ended not with a title roar that had been gathering since the archetypal inning, but a loss, 9-5, to the Houston Astros successful Monday’s archetypal minutes.

“It’s not implicit yet!” 1 of Atlanta’s chronically upbeat stadium announcers shouted aft the last out.

But, Atlantans knew successful the mediate of a spectacular autumn night, it could person been. They, successful fact, accidental it should person been. They accidental it astir instinctively, the concern and the publication astir a perverse rite of beingness successful Georgia.

“We knew we had a long, agelong mode to spell successful that crippled and thing could happen,” Brian Snitker, Atlanta’s manager, said. “It would person been large if we could person kept adding on. We conscionable weren’t capable to bash that.”


Credit...Brett Davis/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Whenever Atlanta’s roadworthy travel concludes successful Houston, wherever Game 6 volition beryllium played connected Tuesday night, Snitker’s overachieving squad will instrumentality location with 1 of 2 unshakable markers for history: arsenic a World Series champion, oregon arsenic the seventh squad to suffer it each aft leading, 3 games to one, successful a best-of-seven series.

Atlanta knows thing astir sacrificing specified a daunting margin: The Braves did it last year successful the National League Championship Series, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the eventual World Series winners. (Atlanta bushed the Dodgers successful this year’s N.L.C.S.)

“It taught america to ne'er instrumentality our ft disconnected the gas, and everybody successful that clubhouse understands that,” Will Smith, Atlanta’s closer, said of that occurrence up of Game 5.

Atlanta has bully crushed to stay upbeat too a bully squad and a 3-2 bid lead: It has not mislaid consecutive games since mid-September, Max Fried is expected to commencement astatine Minute Maid Park connected Tuesday and nary squad has won the World Series connected its location tract since 2013.

The foreboding thought, though, is the conception that possibly this squad volition beryllium to beryllium excessively overmuch similar the 19 Atlanta shot teams that reached the postseason since 1991 and didn’t triumph a World Series than similar the 1 squad that did, successful 1995.

Atlanta’s nonrecreational sports teams, aft all, agelong agone mastered the creation of civic disappointment and, sometimes, heartbreak.


Credit...Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Although the Atlanta United won the M.L.S. Cup successful 2018 and the Campeones Cup successful 2019, the Hawks, successful the N.B.A., person gone 63 seasons without a title. The Thrashers, the erstwhile N.H.L. team, existed for 12 seasons and made the playoffs once.

And past determination was the debacle successful the Super Bowl that ended the 2016 N.F.L. play — played successful Houston, of each places — erstwhile the Atlanta Falcons enjoyed a 25-point pb until the last 3 minutes of the 3rd 4th and inactive managed to suffer to the New England Patriots.

But the taxable of consternation present has astir often been a shot franchise that, acknowledgment to the epoch of TBS and Ted Turner, is much a Southern squad than an Atlanta squad (or a Cobb County team). Its résumé from the 1990s and 2000s glimmers with N.L. East titles, occasional pennants and six Hall of Famers — 4 players, a manager and a wide manager — but lone the 1 championship.

It is existent that this World Series has gone amended than Atlanta’s past one, successful 1999, erstwhile the Yankees swept. It is existent that, with 2 wins, Truist Park present has much Atlanta World Series victories successful it than Turner Field had. It is existent that Atlanta inactive has 2 much chances.

The team’s anticipation is that baseball’s caller history, not Atlanta’s agelong one, volition usher the remainder of the bid aft the Commissioner’s Trophy was won astatine a neutral tract successful 2020 due to the fact that of the coronavirus pandemic.

The past squad to assertion a World Series astatine location was the 2013 Boston Red Sox, erstwhile they utilized a seven-game series to topple the St. Louis Cardinals aft trailing, 2 games to one.


Credit...Elsa/Getty Images

In the past 20 years — for galore of them, the All-Star Game determined home-field vantage successful the World Series — 7 teams person won the rubric astatine their location park: the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, the 2002 Anaheim Angels, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies, the 2009 Yankees, the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals and that Boston squad successful 2013.

There are immoderate perks to home-field advantage, which Houston enjoys successful this bid due to the fact that of its superior regular-season record. Some are apparent, similar familiarity with the playing surface, with however balls bounce disconnected the outfield partition and adjacent with the music. (Minute Maid Park was also, infamously, the hub of the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme.)

“You saw however large this spot got these 3 days,” Marwin Gonzalez, who served arsenic a pinch-hitter for Houston successful Game 5, said earlier the American League champions near Atlanta. “That gives an other bounce.” He added, “For america going backmost to Houston, we gave ourselves a accidental to spell crippled by crippled and to get the Game 6.”

But the 2019 World Series, successful which the Astros played the Washington Nationals, stands arsenic immoderate of the clearest grounds that home-field vantage is overstated and makes small quality successful performance, mostly due to the fact that the roadworthy squad won each 7 games.

And contempt the value of a 108-year World Series rubric drought, the Chicago Cubs overcame immoderate challenges of playing a decisive Game 7 connected the roadworthy and beat Cleveland successful 2016.

Snitker said helium would person preferred to triumph astatine home, where, earlier and during Sunday’s game, the plazas and streets astir the ballpark, the halfway of a mixed-use improvement called the Battery, overflowed with Atlanta fans. But, helium added, “I’ll instrumentality it anywhere.”

“I don’t attraction wherever we’re at,” helium said. “If we triumph the World Series, it doesn’t substance wherever it is. I’d person loved to person done it successful beforehand of our fans. Hopefully, we tin bash it the adjacent mates of days.”

Maybe so. Quite perchance so.

But determination were signs everyplace of what could person been connected Sunday. Inside the park, cases of brew and Champagne earmarked for a title solemnisation sat unopened. Outside, the Battery was a graveyard for bare cups, brew cans and pizza boxes.

Atlanta had missed different opportunity. All it could do, again, was hold and brace and hope.

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