Throughout the evolution of major American professional team sports, only baseball has escaped the curse of the distorting, infuriating, far-too-important home field advantage.

That is, until now.

In the NBA and NHL, contending teams play the entire regular season for only one basic reason. To get the home field advantage in the playoffs. Last season, for example, the Boston Celtics won 41 consecutive games at home. Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs would sooner give up his headphones than give away the RFK Stadium crowd in the postseason.

No statistician or psychologist would deny the large and measurable advantage in these sports of having huge, long-toothed, often profane crowds on the shoulders of visiting teams.

According to the '87 Elias Baseball Analyst: "Home teams won 54 percent of all major league baseball games over the past five years, compared to 58 percent in the NFL, 60 percent {of games played to a decision} in the NHL and 64 percent in the NBA." (Of all teams, the Minnesota Twins had the biggest home field edge over the period from 1982 through 1986, playing 15.8 percent better at home than on the road. This season, it's been an amazing 35 percent better.)

Now, the home field pox may be contaminating baseball. Since the turn of the century, baseball teams have searched for every possible home field edge -- and failed to make it into anything terribly significant. Watered base paths, sloped foul lines, asymmetrical outfield fences, towering outfield walls and vocal home crowds have simply spiced the sport, not twisted it.

Home teams have won only 53 percent of all World Series games. In fact, 55 percent of all Series have been clinched on the road! This mirrors baseball's annual regular season home edge -- 55 percent or less. In other words, just about the margin you'd hope for -- enough to enliven discussion but not enough to define the sport.

Baseball has been so immune to home field factors that, for generations, nobody has questioned the practice of giving the odd-game edge to the American League in odd-numbered years and vice versa.

Even the arrival of artificial turf did not change the natural order of baseball things beyond a tolerable level. In the past dozen years, few fretted if a speed/turf team like the Royals or Cardinals was helped a bit by a spacious pool table field or if Houston pitchers grew arrogant in the Astrodome. It felt acceptable. Still, what these three teams attempted was stretching the envelope. They were getting close to a feeling that "home" carried a special and dubious meaning.

Now, something new has happened. It's called the Thunderdome. And it's as bad for the sport as a whole as it is fun for the 1/26th of the game that resides in Minneapolis.

First, the Twins have artificial turf, which has been shown to be an edge in itself. Turf teams adjust to grass better than grass teams adjust to turf. It's a statistical fact.

Second, the Twins have accidentally introduced a completely unfair and capricious element -- the only ball-colored Teflon ceiling in existence. Perhaps this is a matter of taste, but the feeling here is that the winds, fog and cold of Candlestick Park constitute a legitimate home field edge. If you're tough enough to learn those elements, and endure them a whole season, then more power to you. However, a trick roof seems like just that -- a trick. Every ballplayer learns about wind-blown popups and cold hands. Only a Twin spends enough time in the Metrodome to learn how to catch invisible fly balls.

Finally, and perhaps most important, the Thunderdome is the first baseball park that has duplicated smaller indoor arena noise levels -- as high as 118 decibels in this Series.

Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog says the Metrodome is five times louder than Busch Stadium. Cardinals fans sounded like they were cheering from inside their cars in the parking lot; everything's relative. Those Homer Hankies in Minnesota also feel like they are on top of you. Cardinals fans did their pom-pon number, too, but they felt remote and unthreatening. Close stands help.

As for the public address systems at these parks, both are infernally loud and obtrusive -- inexcusable. The Cardinals played the Budweiser beer jingle seven times during one rally. The Twins are far worse. They not only play mega-rock 'n' roll, but offer ear-splitting locomotive effects and Tarzan screams in mid-inning. Something's gotta be done and fast. For starters, Peter Ueberroth should ban any artificial noise pollution during innings.

Several American League teams also charge that the Twins steal signs with a center field camera. The Twins were once caught with a TV monitor in their dugout that was removed. Does anyone really think Minnesota -- 62-25 at home and 31-56 on the road -- is in the Series on any basis except its home field play?

Most important, baseball should recognize immediately that, in the future, the home field edge in the playoffs and Series should be given to the team with the better regular season record, just as currently exists in every other pro team sport.

It's ludicrously anachronistic to see the Twins, with the ninth-best regular season record in baseball (85 wins), getting an extra home date against both the Detroit Tigers (No. 1 in wins) and the Cardinals (No. 3).

The most lasting memory of the '87 Series probably is already locked in place, no matter who wins. This will be the Home Field Advantage Classic. If the Twins come back to win, that legacy will be a dead certainty since that outcome would make this the first Series in history -- since 1903 -- in which every game was won by the home team.

We may not be able to blow off the Metrodome roof or order the Twins to paint their ceiling, but Ueberroth should clamp a muzzle on mad organists and start working toward a 1988 postseason in which the home field advantage, if we're going to be stuck with one, at least belongs to the proper team.