Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Blame Wrigley Field? Not so fast
By David Schoenfield
Rick Reilly has a column up blaming the Chicago Cubs' woes on Wrigley Field:
There's a reason the Cubs have never won a World Series at Wrigley. There's a reason they're 0-for-the-last-67 pennant races at Wrigley. The reason IS Wrigley.
Reilly points to estimated $73 million in lost revenue because of Wrigley, and while an additional $73 million in revenue would certainly help the franchise, it's not that simple of a cure. (Especially since the Cubs have spent many years with among the highest payrolls in the majors: sixth in 2011, third in 2010, third in 2009, sixth in 2008, eight in 2007 and so on.)
Reilly also references how the Cubs are allowed to play only 30 night games a year. He uses this to point out (correctly) that they could bring in more TV revenue by playing more night games, when ratings would be higher.
That leads to another question, one that many baseball people have suggested through the years: That the Cubs are hurt by all the additional day games. Players are more tired, especially when returning to Chicago after a road trip and having to play the next afternoon. But does this actually bear out? I conducted a very simple study, looking at the home and road records over the past 10 seasons and seeing how many more games each team won at home.
The top five home-field advantages (six, actually):
The bottom five home-field advantages:
The Cubs rank 24th at +46. The major league average is +70, or seven wins per season. So, by this admittedly simple measure, the Cubs are losing 2-3 wins per year due to a lack of home-field advantage.
This study is far from perfect. For example, maybe the Mariners don't have a home-field advantage so much as road-trip disadvantage (they travel more miles per season than any other team). Do the Rays have a home-field advantage because of the quirky Trop, or because they play a lot of road games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, with the Yankees and Red Sox building teams to fit those parks? And the Rockies' issue requires a separate post.
Anyway, while Wrigley's ability to generate maximum revenue is certainly a big issue for the Cubs, it appears the questions of day games is a relatively minor one. The Phillies and Angels, for example, have done just fine without any considerable home-field advantage.