BOSTON — Home-field advantage is impossible to quantify. While home/road splits often show that such an advantage exists, trying to figure out to what extent is a fruitless effort.
Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t going to roll up his sleeves and attempt to solve the age-old debate in front of a packed interview room before Friday’s home opener. Farrell was adamant, however, that the Red Sox frequently feed off the atmosphere at Fenway Park.
“I think our guys thrive on the energy and the electricity that our fans create,” Farrrell said. “We know that we’ve got a lot of people in our fan base that have great expectations for how we play. That brings out the best in all of our guys. When you feel that as a positive as a player — as opposed to it being against you — there’s just another gear that I think our guys bring every day. Regardless of how you feel or a late-night travel in which you come off of, our fans give our guys a tremendous boost of energy.”
Fenway Park always has been a daunting place for opposing teams, and 2013 was no exception. The Red Sox held home-field advantage throughout the postseason — by virtue of their No. 1 seed and the American League winning the All-Star Game — and it certainly provided a boost, albeit an unquantifiable one.
“I think it was part of a well-designed plan on players that would identify and embrace all that’s Boston and the challenges that come with it,” Farrell said of whether a player’s ability to handle pressure factors into the organization’s personnel decisions. “We set out to identify players that were good teammates and (who) would buy into a team concept, which they’ve shown they can and will do. It’s about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back, and I think our guys did a great job of committing to a team last year and setting aside any personal agendas that might be there.”
The Red Sox kicked off Fenway Park’s 102nd season Friday, and there’s no telling how long the ballpark will stick around. It’s been a crazy ride, though, and the Sox are hoping for another season of success in front of the hometown fans.
“I just know that we’re fortunate enough to play in this place 81 times,” Farrell said. “Just walking out there today, knowing the history that’s here, this is a special place. The players that have come through our clubhouse over the course of time, an organization that’s got a winning tradition, we’re fortunate to be in this place today.”
Don’t bother figuring out Fenway Park’s exact home-field advantage. Between the crowd noise, crazy dimensions and unique aura, it’s easier to just agree that an advantage exists.