The losing streak
In 2002, during a long losing streak for the Rochester Red Wings, general manager (which in the minors is more of a marketing and business position, since obviously, the parent club handles 99.99% of player and personnel decisions) Dan Mason declared that he was going to sleep in a tent in the bullpen until they won a game. Nearly a week later, he was freed from his tent when the Wings finally won a game.
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While there has been no sign that Mason (who still holds the GM position) will be recreating the stunt, the sad fact is that the Red Wings’ current losing streak of 17 games is now longer than the infamous streak that forced him to sleep into a tent. It’s believed to be the longest in Red Wings history. That’s a very long history, going back officially to 1899. This may be the longest losing streak in Rochester’s entire minor league history, but records on the pre-1899 teams (which are not the same business entity as the current one) are sometimes a bit hit-or-miss.
The causes for the losing streak are hard to pin down. The loss of players who had been major weapons during the first part of the season plays a role, but much of it comes down to bad luck. Although the Red Wings are no longer the team in first place earlier in the year, they are not a “lose 17 straight games” bad team. Few teams are. You can see it in the statistics: six losses have been by just one run, and nine have been by three or less. With low margins, it’s easy to imagine that just a few different hops or one more key hit could have changed a lot in at least some of those games.
The Red Wings will look to finally end the streak against the Norfolk Tides (Orioles) this coming week in Frontier Field. If they fail to win a game this series, Dan Mason may find himself in that tent again after all.
Abrams and Frontier Field
CJ Abrams joined the Red Wings line-up late in the week and has played three games thus far. It’s the extremely small sample size, but in 13 plate appearances, he’s slashed .273/.385/.455 with an RBI, a stolen base, four strikeouts, and a walk. It’s impossible to judge him based on that small sample size, but it’s certainly a better result than if he had gone hitless.
Starting Tuesday, Abrams will take his at-bats at Frontier Field, which I haven’t mentioned much in my previous posts. Built in the mid-1990s during the famed post-Camden Yards ballpark boom, it’s a fairly typical stadium amenities-wise. However, it is about to get a facelift over the next few years as it A) is improved to ensure it continues to meet AAA standards and B) gets a new outfield concourse to allow people to walk around the entire stadium and access additional fan amenities.
Neither of those is what is important here. Instead, it’s about how it plays. Abrams has spent his entire professional career with the Padres; thus, most of his at-bats have come in the western part of the country. The ballparks in western leagues (such as the Pacific Coast League) are generally more hitter-friendly. This is due to various factors, such as hotter weather and higher elevations in some places.
Well, Frontier Field isn’t like that. While, as of the late 2010s, it had more hitter-friendly tendencies than most International League stadiums, it was less hitter-friendly than the stadium in El Paso, where Abrams has had the majority of his AAA at-bats so far. So if the numbers that Abrams puts up in AAA for the Nationals organization tend to be a little lower than those he put up in the Padres organization, don’t immediately jump to conclusions. And please, for the love of the baseball gods, wait for a larger sample size.