Jump to content

Duane B. Sims

So, why do the Tigers play so differently on the road?

Recommended Posts

The Tigers are trained professionals, the best of the best who have exhibited the kind of insane concentration necessary to make the major leagues.

And yet, so far this season they're a completely different team on the road. That really isn't all that unusual. Lots of teams play better at home.

But why is this? Could it be that the mental aspect of the game is far more important than some seem to think?

After all, while there are some differences on the road (ballpark dimensions, hitting backdrops, pitcher's mounds), most of it would seem to be in the players' heads: the routine is different, they sleep in hotels instead of home, or whatever.

Or are the hitting backdrops really that much different in Cleveland or Minnesota? Are the pitcher's mounds in Kansas City or Chicago truly that uncomfortable? I'm guessing that isn't the answer, although it's just a guess. I just don't think there's any physical reason for such a wide disparity in the Tigers' home and road records.

It's just a fact of life in all sports: teams usually play better at home. Call it home cooking, having the crowd on their side, or whatever. But it would seem to be a mental edge, not a physical one.

If we stipulate that mentality is a big reason why the Tigers play like champs at home and suck on the road, wouldn't it also stand to reason that such intangibles could have a marked impact on other aspects of the game?

Some people, while admitting this stuff does exist, say it has very little effect. But that would not seem to be reflected in the home/road splits.

Or is there some other explanation? If the reason isn't mental, then why do the Tigers seem like a completely different team on the road?

Edited by Duane B. Sims

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Tigers are trained professionals, the best of the best who have exhibited the kind of insane concentration necessary to make the major leagues.

And yet, so far this season they're a completely different team on the road. That really isn't all that unusual. Lots of teams play better at home.

But why is this? Could it be that the mental aspect of the game is far more important than some seem to think?

After all, while there are some differences on the road (ballpark dimensions, hitting backdrops, pitcher's mounds), most of it would seem to be in the players' heads: the routine is different, they sleep in hotels instead of home, or whatever.

Or are the hitting backdrops really that much different in Cleveland or Minnesota? Are the pitcher's mounds in Kansas City or Chicago truly that uncomfortable? I'm guessing that isn't the answer, although it's just a guess. I just don't think there's any physical reason for such a wide disparity in the Tigers' home and road records.

It's just a fact of life in all sports: teams usually play better at home. Call it home cooking, having the crowd on their side, or whatever. But it would seem to be a mental edge, not a physical one.

If we stipulate that mentality is a big reason why the Tigers play like champs at home and suck on the road, wouldn't it also stand to reason that such intangibles could have a marked impact on other aspects of the game?

Some people, while admitting this stuff does exist, say it has very little effect. But that would not seem to be reflected in the home/road splits.

Or is there some other explanation? If the reason isn't mental, then why do the Tigers seem like a completely different team on the road?

i'd say aside from any intangables, there are two concrete things contributing to Tigers home field advantage recently.

Since Granderson, and especially now with Jackson, we have been playing a CF who is better than most visiting CFs in a park where that really makes a difference; And with Cabby, we have a main power guy so powerful that he doesn't have to thank about changing his game to hit HRs to any part of COPA, and now Boesch's huge power is complementing that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well think about any road trip you've been on for anything other than a vacation. Hotels aren't that comfortable (even the nice ones), you have to sit around in a bus or a plane, you probably are eating crap food, all of that would have physical affects on the body's ability to play sports at a high level. What about all the stories of teams getting into towns at 5 AM to play at 7 PM? That kind of turnaround is going to physically affect your body, and not just for that day.

Plus, I don't think anyone denies that the intangible aspect of the game doesn't exist, most just think that it's overstated. Road record is really the only demonstrable evidence I've seen, and I can think of numerous physical reasons to explain it as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i'd say aside from any intangables, there are two concrete things contributing to Tigers home field advantage recently.

Since Granderson, and especially now with Jackson, we have been playing a CF who is better than most visiting CFs in a park where that really makes a difference; And with Cabby, we have a main power guy so powerful that he doesn't have to thank about changing his game to hit HRs to any part of COPA, and now Boesch's huge power is complementing that.

I'd add that players also benefit from the familiarity of the home park (they know the walls, wind patterns, sight lines / back drops better - they are more accustomed to the batting eye, etc.). It has been suggested by some that the home team derives a benefit from slightly favorable umpiring over the course of a long season.

Batting last and it's impact on in-game stategy is beneficial as well, I believe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the Tigers have been that bad on the road this year. We had a pretty brutal 11 game west cost trip (5-6) and another 7 game west cost trip (3-4). Not great, but not terrible either. Against the central on the road the Tigers have not been good (5-9) but a most of those games were pretty close, bad Porcello outings, pre-Toledo Scherzer outings and the one blown save by Papa Grande.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well think about any road trip you've been on for anything other than a vacation. Hotels aren't that comfortable (even the nice ones), you have to sit around in a bus or a plane, you probably are eating crap food, all of that would have physical affects on the body's ability to play sports at a high level.

Any road trip I've been on would not compare. Major league ballplayers get on an air-conditioned luxury bus and go straight to a private jet. They usually aren't sitting in the airport for 3-4 hours like most of us would.

Most of the Tigers' flights are less than 2 hours, many much less than that. Then it's back on an air-conditioned bus and off to a 5-star hotel, where they dont' have to worry about carrying their bags, checking in, or anything.

And I seriously doubt they're eating "crap food" on the road. I suspect they're dining in the finest restaurants. And these aren't hard Motel 6 mattresses they're sleeping on, either. I suspect the beds at the Townsend Hotel and others of that ilk are quite comfortable.

I'm not saying some of this stuff doesn't have an effect. It just seems the physical aspect of it is far less than the mental.

What about all the stories of teams getting into towns at 5 AM to play at 7 PM? That kind of turnaround is going to physically affect your body, and not just for that day.

These instances are few and far between, although they do happen maybe 2-3 times a year.

Plus, I don't think anyone denies that the intangible aspect of the game doesn't exist, most just think that it's overstated. Road record is really the only demonstrable evidence I've seen, and I can think of numerous physical reasons to explain it as well.

I think you may be overstating the physical rigors of traveling as a major league ballplayer, and maybe underestimating the mental aspect.

Edited by Duane B. Sims

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Any road trip I've been on would not compare. Major league ballplayers get on an air-conditioned luxury bus and go straight to a private jet. They usually aren't sitting in the airport for 3-4 hours like most of us would.

Most of the Tigers' flights are less than 2 hours, many much less than that. Then it's back on an air-conditioned bus and off to a 5-star hotel, where they dont' have to worry about carrying their bags, checking in, or anything.

And I seriously doubt they're eating "crap food" on the road. I suspect they're dining in the finest restaurants. And these aren't hard Motel 6 mattresses they're sleeping on, either. I suspect the beds at the Townsend Hotel and others of that ilk are quite comfortable.

I'm not saying some of this stuff doesn't have an effect. It just seems the physical aspect of it is far less than the mental.

These instances are few and far between, although they do happen maybe 2-3 times a year.

I think you may be overstating the physical rigors of traveling as a major league ballplayer, and maybe underestimating the mental aspect.

Credentials? For which years were you a Major League Ballplayer?

Not trying to be a big meany, but you seem pretty sure of your info. I'm just curious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All teams have to play on the "road", this shouldn't be a huge obstacle. Teams on the West coast probably suffer the biggest challenge with longer flights and more extreme time change situations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think the Tigers have been that bad on the road this year. We had a pretty brutal 11 game west cost trip (5-6) and another 7 game west cost trip (3-4). Not great, but not terrible either.

This was the first thing that came to my mind as well. We had a couple long, tough west coast trips right out of the gates.

Against the central on the road the Tigers have not been good (5-9) but a most of those games were pretty close, bad Porcello outings, pre-Toledo Scherzer outings and the one blown save by Papa Grande.

As for the poor record in the central, it seems, (to my memory anyway), that this is a reoccurring problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Credentials? For which years were you a Major League Ballplayer?

Not trying to be a big meany, but you seem pretty sure of your info. I'm just curious.

You're seriously asking me for credentials becaue I said ballplayers travel in luxury?

Well, I have to admit, I don't have a card I can whip out or anything like that. I'm just an average Joe using common sense.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the ballplayers have to hitchhike to the airport; sit in the terminal for 4 hours; and then catch a coach flight to Minnesota crammed in between a fat guy and a whiny 3-year-old. And maybe they stay in fleabag motels and eat crummy food.

You're right, I don't have any concrete proof. And I can't provide a link, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think the Tigers have been that bad on the road this year. We had a pretty brutal 11 game west cost trip (5-6) and another 7 game west cost trip (3-4). Not great, but not terrible either. Against the central on the road the Tigers have not been good (5-9) but a most of those games were pretty close, bad Porcello outings, pre-Toledo Scherzer outings and the one blown save by Papa Grande.

Nice breakdown. Maybe (hopefully) their road record will improve.

But it's still widely accepted that most sports teams perform much better at home, and I'm just wondering why that's so, since MLB ballplayers are finely-tuned athletes trained to block out anything that might impair their concentration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well think about any road trip you've been on for anything other than a vacation. Hotels aren't that comfortable (even the nice ones), you have to sit around in a bus or a plane, you probably are eating crap food, all of that would have physical affects on the body's ability to play sports at a high level. What about all the stories of teams getting into towns at 5 AM to play at 7 PM? That kind of turnaround is going to physically affect your body, and not just for that day.

Plus, I don't think anyone denies that the intangible aspect of the game doesn't exist, most just think that it's overstated. Road record is really the only demonstrable evidence I've seen, and I can think of numerous physical reasons to explain it as well.

You make some good points, but the disparity seems to be worse than average for the Tigers. It could be that we're missing a vocal leader like Pudge.

Not to beat a dead horse, but some of the blame has to go to the manager.

Hopefully we can make it through this tough road trip within a couple games of the Twins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Any road trip I've been on would not compare. Major league ballplayers get on an air-conditioned luxury bus and go straight to a private jet. They usually aren't sitting in the airport for 3-4 hours like most of us would.

Most of the Tigers' flights are less than 2 hours, many much less than that. Then it's back on an air-conditioned bus and off to a 5-star hotel, where they dont' have to worry about carrying their bags, checking in, or anything.

And I seriously doubt they're eating "crap food" on the road. I suspect they're dining in the finest restaurants. And these aren't hard Motel 6 mattresses they're sleeping on, either. I suspect the beds at the Townsend Hotel and others of that ilk are quite comfortable.

I'm not saying some of this stuff doesn't have an effect. It just seems the physical aspect of it is far less than the mental.

These instances are few and far between, although they do happen maybe 2-3 times a year.

I think you may be overstating the physical rigors of traveling as a major league ballplayer, and maybe underestimating the mental aspect.

Physiological depressurization effect of flying is real, though should be small for conditioned athletes. Still, I think you'd find that international track stars avoid flying the day before an event. Also time change effect on your bioclock going west to coast is real, though it also varies by individual - there is probably a minority of players who are better day players than night players that might actually do better on a west coast swing with what amount to afternoon starting times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think constant traveling would be difficult for anyone, regardless of how much luxury they have. It's takes players away from their routine and that is important for athletes. I don't see why the Tigers would have any more problems with that than other teams though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're not as good on the road because their mascot Paws isn't there to cheer them on and inspire them to climb to the heights of success.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also interesting to compare different sports for home/away effect. Differential is quite huge in the NBA, which is ironic since the on field conditions are most identical in basketball of any sport - the effect is almost certainly homer officiating, whether explicitly deliberate for the improved attendance effect or merely the official's subconscious reaction to the crowd only Stern knows for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone ever broken down whether there is a home/away performance differential between players who actually live in the cities they play in full time vs those that don't?

I wouldn't be surprised if guys travelling from their 'real' homes hold up better than guys who are essentially doing what you might call '2nd order' travelling from a home that's already 'away from home'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You make some good points, but the disparity seems to be worse than average for the Tigers. It could be that we're missing a vocal leader like Pudge.

Not to beat a dead horse, but some of the blame has to go to the manager.

Hopefully we can make it through this tough road trip within a couple games of the Twins.

The nice thing about having Pudge is not only could he be the vocal leader, he could also run the manager you hate out of town. Kill two birds with one stone. Talk about value!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They're not as good on the road because their mascot Paws isn't there to cheer them on and inspire them to climb to the heights of success.

I got a chuckle out of this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Side thought:

Isn't it possible that most or the whole thing could be attributable to random variation? Happen to face harder pitching match-ups on the road, happen to catch teams when they are injured or bullpen is overused at home, opposite on the road, etc., or some other vagary of the game that is different from the 'mental' aspect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of gray area...hard to put into numbers why this happens.

I have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts...some things on here I never even thought could affect a player in a visiting ballpark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You make some good points, but the disparity seems to be worse than average for the Tigers. It could be that we're missing a vocal leader like Pudge.

Over the last 5 years, the average winning percentage on the road for MLB is 45%. The Tigers are currently at 40.6%.

Over the pat 5 years, the Tigers have been:

2005: 5.5 wins under

2006: 12.25 wins over

2007: 5.9 wins over

2008: 1.9 wins under

2009: 1.6 wins under

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...