From a purely scientific point of view, the Atlanta Braves would have been better off playing the Seattle Mariners than the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
Baseball teams traveling from the Pacific time zone to the East suffer more from jet lag, two University of Massachusetts Medical Center doctors reported in a letter published Wednesday in Nature magazine.
Dr. William Schwartz, a biological clock specialist, and Dr. Lawrence Recht, a neurologist, found that West Coast teams have a lower-than-normal winning percentage in the first two games of road trips against Eastern teams.
Moreover, the home team could expect to score 1.24 more runs than usual when the visiting team has just finished eastward travel.
Scientists long have felt that traveling from west to east produces greater jet lag than travel from east to west.
The Mariners, who scored only seven runs in their three road games at Cleveland in the American League Championship Series, were eliminated in Seattle on Tuesday by the Indians. Since the final weekend of the regular season, the Mariners had played games in Texas, New York and Cleveland.
The study looked at the season records of the 19 major-league teams based in the Eastern and Pacific times zones for the 1991-93 seasons.
Home teams won 54.1 percent of their games. When the visiting team traveled east to west, the home team won 56.2 percent of the games. But when the visiting team traveled west to east, the home-team winning percentage rose to 62.9 percent.
The home-field advantage was not enhanced after westward travel or at the end of road trips, so neither flying per se nor lengthy road trips could have been responsible.