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Home-field advantage looms large
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10/23/2003 12:33 AM ET 
Home-field advantage looms large
Recent Series history gives edge to Yanks
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Alex Gonzalez celebrates his game-winning HR in Game 4 of the World Series. (Preston Mack/mlb.com)
It looks like the 100th-anniversary celebration of this World Series might last a while, as the Florida Marlins have created the 38th 2-2 series tie in the event's best-of-seven history. However, the Marlins now have to deal with the Hank Blalock Factor.

The last eight times the World Series was tied at two games apiece -- including the last two years -- the team that won it all did so on its home field. Not since the Los Angeles Dodgers won the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees has a team gone from a 2-2 tie to win the championship on the road.

The Yankees have the home-field advantage this year because of Blalock's game-winning home run in the All-Star Game last July, a new rule for 2003 giving the winning league of that game this important October edge. Regardless of what happens in Game 5 Thursday night in Florida, the series is going back to the Bronx and you can appreciate even more why the 2003 Midsummer Classic truly counted.

Those who were hoping for another classic seven-game series in this spectacular postseason are likely to get their wish, if 2-2 history also is an indicator. Of those 38 occasions, 26 have gone the distance. Only once since 1981 has a team won in six after a a 2-2 series tie, and that was the 1996 Yankees club that came back from a 2-0 series deficit to sweep the Atlanta Braves.

The Marlins were on the other side of this situation in their only previous World Series. They were tied with Cleveland after the first four games in 1997, and went on to win the title in seven games at Pro Player Stadium.

Minnesota won both of its world championships in this manner. In 1987 (against St. Louis) and 1991 (against Atlanta), the Twins had the home-field advantage each time. In both cases, oddly enough, the home team won all seven games.

That classic 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox was split after two and then won by the Mets at Shea Stadium in Game 7, and the 1982 Cardinals took the same path against Milwaukee.

This pattern has occurred in every decade starting with the 1906 Chicago White Sox, and although it has endured without fail for more than two decades now, it could hardly be described as a trend before. From 1955-81, there were 13 World Series that were tied after four games -- and then clinched by a visiting team. Perhaps this suggests that the home-field advantage is more pronounced today.

Mark Newman is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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