Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Hypothesis: Playing in an empty stadium, without home town fans in the seats, surely hurt the 2020 Yankees, right? Well...

Someday, when this is over, we'll all agree that one of the weirdest aspects of the pandemic was the piped-in crowd noise and cardboard faces - barely a notch above electrified corpses - that were supposed to replace live, cheering sports fans. Watching YES, you'd be lulled by the background noise, only to watch a pop foul land into the sea of blue seats, and feel that existential jolt of sadness. 

Sports in 2020 answered the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest... 

Yeah, someone does hear it... a tape of it, anyway.

So, with one of the most rabid fan bases on Earth, it stands to reason that the 2020 Yankees were denied their rightful home field advantage, right? Don't we love to believe that opposing pitchers, entering Yankee Stadium for the first time, face the most daunting crucibles of their careers: 60,000 howling banshees, each with a loaded Luger and photos of their kids, like Robert DeNiro in that movie. The song goes, "If I can make it there..." and, let's face it, some can't. Yankees play on baseball's greatest stage, and we fans - sporting versions of the Qanon Shaman - are the 10th man. (Okay, eleventh, if you do the DH.) 

So, without us, the 2020 Yanks lost that advantage, right? I mean, it's obvious: Drain Yankee Stadium of its fang-toothed hominids, and you help the opposition. 

Okay, you know where this is going. Let's cut to it.

The 2020 Yankees - playing without fans - enjoyed the highest home field winning percentage - an astronomical .710 - in this millennium.

At considerable time and expense, I have compiled winning percentages for the last 12 years...

2020: .710
2019: .704
2018: .654
2017: .630
2016: .543
2015: .556
2014: .531
2013: .568
2012: .630
2011: .642
2010: .642
2009: .704

To find a better home winning percentage, we must go back to 1998 - when the Yanks won 114 games and swept the Padres. That year, in the old stadium, they won at a cartoonish rate of .765. But they beat everyone. It's almost not fair to make comparisons.

This year, on the road, the Yankees played like cowed, overwhelmed tourists: a measly winning percentage of .379. (Tampa - used to playing in a creaky, empty park - went .690 at home and .645 on the road. The Rays won 5 of 6 in silent Yankee Stadium.) 

So... WTF? 

How could the Yankees actually do better without us, their loving fans? Some theories:

1. Small sample size. That's a gimme. It was a 60-game season.

2. The silence spooked visitors. Cavernous park, no fans. The Yankees got used to it.

3. The impact of frenzied, threatening, semi-human throngs is overrated. 

4. All things considered, the Yankees prefer quiet. After retirement, become librarians?

Frankly, I have no clue. One team clearly intimidated by this emptiness: Our ol' drinking buddies, the Redsocks. The Yankees went 9-1 against Boston, the lone loss at Fenway, where silence could shake anybody.

The Yankees had their greatest home team in nearly a quarter of a century... and nobody was there to see it. Weird times, eh?


Magnus7319 said...

To piggyback on #1 - Small Sample Size - they only played Boston, Atlanta, Tampa, Mets, Balt, Miami and 1 game vs Philly as the home slate this year... so yea... there are a lot of good teams they didn't face this past season (home or away for that matter).

JM said...

We don't need no stinking fans.

But you have to wonder how good a team is if they're invincible at home but can't buy their fair share of wins anywhere else. There's something wrong there. Obviously.

ranger_lp said...

At least none of the players can go "Black Jack McDowell" on us...

Anonymous said...

It's possible that sleeping in their own beds was a huge advantage this time since being on the road meant being confined to a hotel room for the most part.

Doug K.

el duque said...

Bingo, Doug. BINGO.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Doug may well have a point. Do we know how other teams did at home, compared to the recent past?