During the chatter before Tuesday's home game pitting the Philadelphia Phillies and the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, television personnel were trying to figure out why the Phillies had a worse home record than on the road.
Most said that they were tight and there was a letdown after all the World Series hype died down. The defending World Series champions currently lead the National League East with a 36-26 mark, but are 13-17 at home and a league-best 23-9 on the road.
As another Bleacher Report writer said, they will not win the National League East if they can't win at home.
I have my own theories, some about why, but mostly the difference of the team playing at home or on the road.
1) The Glitter is Gone. Not only are all the championship rings, White House visits, television talk show appearance are over, the Phillies lost their number one fan. And it hurts. On April 12, longtime Phillies Hall of Fame television announcer Harry Kalas died.
The services were held the following weekend at Citizens Bank Park. It has happened to many teams: Jack Buck and Harry Caray were beloved announcers for St. Louis and Chicago Cubs, respectively.
But Kalas flew with the team, traveled on the team bus. He was an eternal optimist. Kalas is not all of the reason, just a large reason why this year is different.
2) The defense is worse. Ryan Howard made a throwing error to second base on a potential double play ball and Jimmy Rollins failed to pick up two balls he normally would gobble up in Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays. Whether they are tight, wanting to play better, I am not sure. I just believe they play worse defense at home.
Remember Rollins gobbling up the ball up the middle to start a double play in the division-clinching win over the Washington Nationals last year? The double play is not as crisp as last year, mostly at home. The double play combination has been sweet on the road.
3) Even though the Phillies are near the top in home runs in the National League, the home run advantage does not exist at home. According to an Internet web site: There were just 38 homers in the first 26 games at the Met's Citi Field—a fraction of the 105 in 29 games at the new Yankee Stadium—but seven were hit, two more than the previous high set when the Mets beat the Phillies 7-5 on May 7.
I think the Phillies hit four home runs in that game and the Mets three. In last night's loss, Toronto hit one home run and the Phillies one. The June 17 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News, bore out my observation. The Phillies have a 51-42 home run advantage on the road, while a 39-49 dinger deficit at home.
4) The Phillies have to get the mojo back at home. The fans are still into it on every pitch, screaming wildly at a two-strike, two-out count. Ryan Madson showed his is not better than Brad Lidge last night, loading the bases and blowing a save by giving up the tieing run in what would become a blowout extra-inning loss.
The Phillies were undefeated at home during the playoffs last year. They owned Citizens Bank Park. They have to take control back at home.
5) The Phillies enjoy the underdog status. Nobody, except the fans, believed they would win the World Series last year. On the road, they still enjoy the underdog status. At home, they are the World Champions. They have a big target on their backs. Teams come into Citizens Bank Park fired up to win.
Get over it. Show that this 2009 team, warts and all, is better than the 2008 World Series team.
** Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Daily News. Clay Condrey reacts after giving up five runs in the 10th inning of an 8-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.