I love trends. Just love ‘em. I love trends so much that I sometimes even take the time to figure out who is following the so-called conventional wisdom and who is not. Better yet, in my anti-establishment ethos that I have been honing since I first discovered The Ramones, The Clash and Minor Threat when I was 13, I knee-jerkily give credence to those who buck the trends no matter what the trend is.
Certainly those that defy conventional wisdom not only have seen the errors of following the herd, but also they are much more hip and astute than those who blindly follow what everyone else is doing.
But more than a “why can’t I be different just like everyone else” screed, or a paradoxical “sometimes no style is a style” it’s fair to surmise that the non-trendsetters always end up creating the new trend. After all, one day Tito Puente will be dead and you’ll tell all your friends, “Oh yeah, I’ve been listening to him for years and he’s fabulous.”
And, yes, I know Tito Puente is already dead. However, Tito was clearly one of the best unconventional guest stars on The Simpsons. Don’t argue because I’m right.
Anyway, there seems to be a new trend in Major League Baseball, and no, it has nothing to do with bloused pants and high stirrups or substituting sunflower seeds and gummy bears for Skoal and a plug of Red Man. Nope, this anti-trend is more sinister and very well could upset the very balance of power in Major League Baseball…
Or something like that.
Get to the point? OK. Here it is.
According to a column scribbled out by the great Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post, home run totals have dropped in Major League Baseball for the second straight season. According to the column, last spring homer totals were down eight percent, but this spring – in the wake of The Mitchell Report – home run totals have dipped 10.4 percent from last spring.
If the trend holds there will be 4,442 homers hit this year, which is a 17.5 percent drop from 2006.
Certainly there are a lot of reasons for the home run dip that can be assumed by followers of the game and/or meteorology. For one, some claim the cooler early-season temperatures have kept more baseballs in the park. Others suggest that baseball’s drug-testing program is finally working. As Orioles’ president Andy MacPhail told Boswell:
“A ‘cold spring’ doesn’t account for an almost 20 percent drop in home runs in two years,” MacPhail said. “It’s foolish not to think there’s some correlation to more drug testing and all the [legal] attention [on steroids]. There are still people out there trying to cheat. There will always be people who try to get around the rules one way or another. But there are not as many now.”
More interestingly, Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire told Boswell that he has noticed a difference in the shape and size of the ballplayers around the league.
“Just say that guys look like ballplayers again, like they looked when I was growing up, not like musclemen,” said St. Claire.
But before this descends into an essay about Bud Selig’s drug policy and the cleaning up of the national pastime, let’s take a gander at those who are bucking the trend.
Ladies and gentleman, the rebels of MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies…
So far, the Phillies have launched 71 home runs, which is the most in all of baseball. The Marlins are second with 66 and the Rangers are third with 60.
Yes, the Phillies have out-homered all American League teams by a substantial margin.
Of course part of that has to do with the fact that the Phillies play in the friendliest hitting park in all of baseball. After all, the Phillies have blasted 38 homers in 24 home games. However, the 33 road homers also lead the Majors in that sub-category.
But more telling is the fact that the Phillies hit just 56 home runs through April and May of the 2007 season. With a full week to go in the month, the Phillies will have quite a substantial increase in the power totals from a year ago.
More interesting is another trend – the Phillies have three players on pace to crush 40 homers.
When’s the last time three Phillies hit at least 40 homers in a season?
Uh, how about never. In fact, only six different guys have the franchise’s 11 40-homer seasons. Four of those have come since 2003. Actually, last season was just the second time in team history that three players hit at least 30 homers in a season.
So while the trends shift one way, the Phillies go another.
How punk rock is that?
More: Tom Boswell – “There’s Something in the Air Other than the Ball Headed for the Fence”
 Yes, discovered. Just like Columbus “discovered” the Americas. Yeah, like they wouldn’t have found that anyway.