Wooden's World of Baseball

Sunday, June 17, 2007

At The Halfway Mark...

Kind of funny to be sitting here on Father's Day (two boys, 4 and 7) and thinking that the season is half over. My last post was musing over how long I had had to wait for "going to the baseball game" to begin, after all.

It's been quite a ride so far. Literally. I've driven to Lynchburg, Winston-Salem, Frederick, Hagerstown, Atlantic City and, last night, Bowie. I've seen two wins and two losses for my teams, though Bowie barely qualifies as "my team" — it's really the chance to see a good baseball game at a great facility.

Probably more disturbing to me is my impatience with the Potomac Nationals. After starting the season strong for the first two weeks, they limped through May, subjecting us fans to twelve straight losses at home. Far from a record, but pitiful nevertheless.

I suppose in some ways it was good that many of the losses were no-doubt-about-it, enabling me to leave after an hour-and-a-half or so knowing full well I wouldn't be missing much. But a lot of it I attribute it to the misbegotten idea of starting midweek games at 7:35 p.m. The recent expansion of dollar nights to both Mondays and Thursdays is a tacit admission that the idea is a failure. The only night it really makes a difference is Friday night, the rest of the week it's not that hard to get to the ballpark by 7 p.m.

Moreover, the dollar-night ploy is also a hint that they're getting killed on concessions. With the elimination of the $5.50 hot dog meal, I'm finding it hard to justify spending $3 more for the same exact thing as last year. It's easier to eat at work and just buy a soda. I can't possibly be the only one making that decision, judging by how dead the counters are when I turn in my freebie for a free soda for pledging not to drink any beer that night (when you don't like beer and you have a 25-minute drive and 90% chance of seeing a county mounty, this is a great deal, even if the prize pack is a t-shirt and 6-pack cooler?!)

Attendance is about 2,240 a game, about 127 less than the average for all of last year, though as previously posted, I'd argue that poor weather, not poor performance, is the culprit. We'll see if moving Sunday night games to 6:05 once school lets out will pay off. If it does, I'd be the first to suggest to the Silbers that perhaps that ought to be the time for both Saturday and Sundays. Quite frankly, it has to. Nobody wants to sit in a 23-year-old aluminum stadium in 95-degree heat.

# # #

Is this the year the North Shore Spirit fall back to the pack? Sure seems that way, after a 4-game sweep by the Worcester Tornadoes, the Sons of Vic Davilla are 11-12, and could be as far back as six games behind the New Jersey Jackals by the evening's end. I can remember a June swoon in 2005, but I cannot remember the Spirit being below .500 this deep into a season.

Thirty games seems to be the minimum to win the half, and I'm just not seeing this team going on a 19-4 tear. Not yet. I'd like to chalk this up to Worcester having our number, but I'm not so sure. The pitching is an alleged strength, but 19 unearned runs in 22 games before today is a testament to this team's porous defense, and the offense is neither the well-balanced the thunderers of 2004-2006 nor the speedy small-ballers of 2003. Instead, we're seeing mediocrity. At best.

If there's any consolation, it's that this year, there's a real reward for the teams that do best overall. Only two teams are guaranteed a playoff spot for playing one good half of ball, and only one team is going to earn that in the next four weeks. The other nine teams can regroup and rally. Getting Bicondoa and Trezza back is one step, getting them to perform the way they did in '05 and '06 is the next. Winning five or six games at home this week would be even better.