Aren’t teams supposed to perform better when they are playing at home? Something about a homefield advantage or the culinary angle of “home cooking?”
For the Seattle Mariners, this does not seem to apply. At least, there hasn’t been a distinct advantage to playing in Safeco Field over a last few years.
What is the problem? Shouldn’t a team like the Mariners win more games in front of the adoring fans?
It certainly works across the street at CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks have a very obvious homefield advantage. The Clink is such an advantage that there are rumors the NFL wanted less primetime games in Seattle this season for fear of blowouts.
This year the Mariners are 8-10 (.444) at home and 14-13 (.583) on the road. Not a huge disparity, but you would still think that the M’s could do better in the Emerald City. Unfortunately, this is somewhat of a historical trend as the Mariners have not had a major advantage in Seattle:
2013: 36-45 at home (.444), 35-46 on the road (.432)
2012: 40-41 at home (.494), 35-46 on the road (.432)
Obviously the Mariners have been better at home over the last two seasons than they have been on the road, but shouldn’t Safeco play to their strengths, which has been pitching? Shouldn’t the Mariners at least play .500 ball when they are at home? Apparently not.
There are two theories that could be contributing to this issue. One is the lack of fan support, which is dismal again this season. The Mariners rank 23rd in the league in home attendance, which means that the locals are not exactly thundering towards Safeco Field on a regular basis.
Granted, it is hard to blame the fans for being less than enthused about the M’s. The ‘Hawks have been downright awe-inspiring in the last couple of seasons. Meanwhile, the Mariners have been, well, the Mariners.
Certainly the fans could start flowing back through the turnstiles and support their local team. There is more reason for optimism this season and this Mariners team could do some damage if they stay healthy.
The other theory is psychological. Safeco is regarded as a “pitcher’s park,” even with the fences moved in. Perhaps the Mariners as an organization have a mental block when it comes to hitting at home. The problem with this theory is that opposing teams don’t seem to struggle. Besides, a cavernous ballpark is not going to stop a team from hitting singles and doubles.
Regardless of the reasons, the Mariners struggle to display a strong advantage at home. That is a problem, and if this team is going to turn the proverbial corner at some point, Safeco Field will need to resemble something closer to the Clink, or the old Kingdome in the glory days of 1995.