We've discussed before ... for a while there it looked like maybe the young lefty hitters were shaking off the home field to some extent, as the weather warmed up. But it hasn't lasted: the M's month-to-month splits show zero improvement since April, despite benching Chone Figgins, moving the offensive catchers into the lineup, and, for better or worse, sending Ichiro out.
Their home/road splits remain catastrophic on the season: they're slugging .401 on the road but a measly .319 at home. Their home line of .216/.288/.319 is based on over 2,500 plate appearances and is easily exceeded by the deadball National League of 1906. Here, let's underline it:
|2012 Seattle Mariners, home||.216||.288||.319|
|1906 National League (16 HR per team, full season)||.244||.310||.310|
Watching Safeco games this year has been worse than watching deadball National League offenses. Teams of 120 years ago, all teams, would have been ashamed to hit .216. I didn't see a single team with an OBP as low as the Mariners' Safeco OBP this year. Think about it!
In years past, Chuck Armstrong has consistently responded that the Mariners like the retro scoring environment, calling it "fair." This year, they've made a few noises to the effect of "if we think it helps our team, we'll change it."
The Safeco situation goes far beyond just turning fans off. I mean, you spend $100 or $200 to take your family down there, and you sit for two hours and see three baserunners. That's a cold shower on the baseball enthusiasm. But what's worse for us as hardcore fans, is the classical conditioning that it applies to the mammals who wear the Mariners' uniforms. Nobody overcomes positive and negative reinforcement by simply deciding to. You don't argue with neural pathways. If you beat the pitcher and pull a ball hard in the air, and you head back to the dugout, your approach is going to be warped.
It isn't that the Mariners don't have talented hitters. They do now. Kyle Seager is slugging .524 on the road ... and .305 at home.
Easiest would be to simply move home plate out by, say, six feet -- if you want to favor your home team, move it a few feet closer to RF than you do to LF. You can close the roof whenever game time temperature is below (say) 65 degrees. Last I heard, Chuck Armstrong personally decides when to close the roof, and if so, most executives aren't eager to give up that kind of territory.
Bat571 suggests a minor change to the park - his change would allow for an expansion of the singles porch and some blue-white-and-green flowers. I'm warming to this because it could "freshen" Safeco's appearance, give it a facelift. In stadium terms, 14 years is middle age...
The sail system sounds unwieldy at first sight, and the skyline view from 1B is important. But it's quite possible that you wouldn't need much in the way of clear sails to affect the wind quite a bit.
It kind of worries me that, over the winter, people will kind of lose their edge about the ballpark. But c'mon. When you're watching baseball that is worse than 1903, something has to be done. Even I'm getting sick of going down there, sitting in the third deck, and watching nothing happen every night.