“You’re jammin’ me, you’re jammin’ me
Quit jammin’ me
Baby you can keep me painted in a corner
You can walk away, but it’s not over
Yeah take back your losing streak”
–Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me”
It’s the “dog days” of summer, and the IronPigs are losing at an alarming rate. They’re playing hard, (see also: “2010, The Team That Gave Up”) but one night they can’t hit, and the next they can’t pitch. It’s not a recipe for winning.
And just now, the local Beats are writing about the horrid home record–the IronPigs are the worst home team in Minor League Baseball if I’m not mistaken. But it’s not a new topic for the IronPigs’ cognoscenti–we’ve been talking about this for some time. Whether it was my “Friday Curse of the Black Pants” theory, or my “Revenge of the Bacon Jerseys” theory or what–It was even discussed on the “APhiliated Podcast” with IronPigs’ Radio Producer Mark Perlman-Price and former broadcast assistant and current Voice of the Fightins Mikey the V. @MtripleP and I discussed it on the pre-game radio show one day as well. “Why are the ‘Pigs so bad at home this season?”
While it probably doesn’t have much to do with the new home jersey rotation, there were some other theories floated early on–aside from my silly “curse” posts: First, the theory had to do with the weather. It was a cold Spring, as most of us who attend all the games can attest. Some of the cold road games were postponed, yielding a sub-par home record. Another theory, which I floated via radio call-in, had to do with the stadium. The deep left field at Coca Cola Park had been a grave-yard to right-handed power hitters over the years, and was sapping this years’ line-up: Maikel Franco, Jimmy Murphy, Cam Rupp, Tyler Henson, Darin Ruf, and others, with power, hitting from the right side, were crushing homers on the road a great deal more than at home–yielding a sub-par home record.
However, the weather’s nice now–wherever you go–and other teams with right-handed power seem to be doing fine here in Allentown. The Beats have asked Mr. Brundage, but his answer is typical Manager-speak (para-phrasing): “We’re doing the things to win ballgames while on the road rather than at home. I don’t know.”
So what could it be? Reading between the lines today, I think I’ve figured it out: It’s the change.
The transactions this year have been off the chart. The number of players going up to Philly, down to Reading, in from Independent Ball, out to the waiver wire, and off and on the DL –has been craziness. The movement is much greater at home, given the proximity to Philadelphia and Reading, and the likelihood that a player who has been moved won’t report until the team is home. The roster turnover which impacts the team at home has unknowingly (or, “un-care-ingly” Phillies) created a team which doesn’t gel or execute as well at home. Coaches and managers aren’t able to put the players in a good position to succeed given such rapid turnover. It’s a detail thing–but it’s enough to where the team has struggled. Several times, the team has been left short-handed at home, too, while waiting for players to get healthy and return for the road trips.
So, I hope we can get it together. Playoffs are not likely in our future, and a certain amount of change will continue. However, a couple moves from Reading and well-placed trades could result in a team that is fun to watch through all those August weekends. Or, not. Perhaps they’ll start to give up like that 2010 team, especially in light of the recent loss of clubhouse good-guys Steve Susdorf and Barry Enright. But I don’t think so. There’s too much talent on this team right now–and too many players with career trajectories in the balance. We’ll see some good baseball down the stretch. I’ll bet my black Friday jersey on it.
See you at the park,