In sports, there is no place like home. We saw this fact come to life this week for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With their 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, the Dodgers improved to 12-0 at Dodger Stadium this season. Los Angeles tied the record for the longest home winning streak to start a season, matching the 1911 Detroit Tigers.
After Tuesday night's win, the Dodgers also had the best overall record in baseball at 20-8.
The Dodgers are taking advantage of a sports term called "home field advantage." For a number of reasons, teams usually play better in their home stadiums. One big factor is the fans. When teams play at home, thousands of fans are supporting the players. At Dodger Stadium, the fans wear blue and cheer loudly for the home team. For the players, all the support serves to motivate them to play better. It's easier to play well when fans cheer for you rather than when they cheer for the other team.
Another reason for the home field advantage is that the players are more familiar with the field. The Dodgers will play 81 games at Dodger Stadium this season. The pitchers know how the mound feels under their feet; the outfielders know how much space they have before the grass turns into the warning track. The players get to use their own lockers and sit in their own dugout. Also, they all live close to the stadium and get to stay at home. When teams are on the road, the players have to stay in hotels and travel long distances on airplanes. Traveling can be tiring and puts visiting teams at a disadvantage against the well-rested home teams.
Home field advantage is so important that it is used as a reward in all sports. In baseball, hockey and basketball, the teams that finish the regular season with the best records get to play most of their playoff games at home. In pro football, the team that finishes with the best overall record in the regular season gets to play all of its playoff games at home. This is a very important factor and teams put in a lot of effort to earn home playoff games.
While the Dodgers are a very good team, they are even better playing at Dodger Stadium. It's all part of their home field advantage.
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