Syracuse Chiefs fans now bask in the glow of color video images beaming down upon them from a spanking new scoreboard.
Alliance Bank Stadium’s left-field landmark stands 55 feet wide and 30 feet high.
It’s the best physical improvement at the ballpark since Kentucky bluegrass replaced artificial turf to begin the 2008 season. That grotesque green carpet had shamed our stadium since it debuted in 1997.
The new scoreboard, unveiled May 7 before a game against the Durham Bulls, supplanted a sub-standard gizmo that often malfunctioned rendering players’ names unreadable and mangling statistics.
Daktronics, a video-display company based in Brookings, South Dakota, manufactured and installed the new LED display to replace the old scoreboard which had been servicing the stadium for its first decade and a half. With a 15HD-pixel layout, the new board offers pristine color, clarity and brightness from all viewing angles. It is among the top five biggest scoreboards in minor-league baseball, according to Chiefs General Manager John Simone.
While the new scoreboard has noticeably brightened the fan experience at ABS, the Chiefs need to win some games to brighten its International League season.
After a four-game winning streak at the end of April, Syracuse has dropped seven of ten games. Over those ten games, opponents have outscored the Chiefs 58 to 38.
In the middle of that brief quartet of Ws, Chiefs outfielder Bryce Harper was suddenly promoted to the Washington Nationals. Ditto slugger Tyler Moore and closer Ryan Perry.
Transitions and transactions are part and parcel of minor-league baseball, and that means that teams must continually re-invent themselves.
As several Triple-A rookies adjust to a new level and a new clubhouse, the Chiefs have struggled, dropping seven of ten games since splitting a doubleheader with the Charlotte Knights on April 28 at ABS. The newbies just up from Double-A Harrisburg include infielders Josh Johnson and Jim Negrych catcher Jeff Howell, right-handed pitcher Pat Lehman.
In the batting lineup, with veteran hitters such as Corey Brown, Brett Carroll, Jason Michaels and Mark Teahen promising power, the youngsters can do their part by simply learning to get on base any way possible.
The rookie position players aren’t the only Chiefs who need to get on the ball. As evidenced by the number of runs allowed recently, Chiefs pitchers – especially the starters – need to keep the ball down to keep the team in the game. Syracuse hurlers have allowed ten home runs over the past ten games.
On the plus side, Chiefs hurlers stubbornly refuse to issue free passes. The Syracuse staff is third in the league in awarding the fewest bases-on-balls, which is a testament to the solid mentoring of the Chiefs no-nonsense pitching coach Greg Booker.
Meanwhile, first-year manager Tony Beasley would do well to instill a never-say-die attitude among his players. They need to be able to come back and compete for a win in the late innings even after falling behind. So far this dismal season, the Chiefs are 9-1 when tied or leading after six innings, 1-19 when trailing or tied.
It will take a concerted effort – that means teamwork – for the Chiefs to turn around its current 10-20 win-loss record.