‘They ran out of gas’: Full season on the road too much to overcome for Winnipeg Goldeyes

Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Rick Forney.
Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Rick Forney. Sean Rice, Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks

The Winnipeg Goldeyes‘ season ended without a playoff berth for the third straight year.

While the wheels really fell off the last three weeks of the season, it’s hard to point fingers considering they were the only team in the league to spend the entire campaign on the road amid COVID-19 safety measures.

“If it can go wrong, it went wrong this year for us it seems,” Goldeyes first baseman Kyle Martin said.

The Goldeyes finished their season last Thursday with back-to-back wins after suffering losses in 14 of their previous 16 contests.

It was a season of ups and downs for the Fish. From a blown tire and a minor bus crash early in the year, to sitting in top spot with just three weeks left in the regular season. But after two straight months of riding the bus around the United States, it all came crashing down with an 11-game losing streak in early September.

Story continues below advertisement

“We hit a lull and just couldn’t get out of it,” Martin said. “We had a little bit of a slump and had a tough time bouncing back. I think we were just tired at that point, which sucks to say.

“There’s a lot of things that run into it, but at the end of the day your job is to show up and do everything you can to win. It just so happens that 11 game stretch really hurt us.”

READ MORE: ‘He was everything’: Winnipeg Goldeyes’ Rick Forney named American Association Manager of the Year

“It was a long summer. They were tired,” general manager Andrew Collier said. “They ran out of gas. We had some injuries. Probably half our starting lineup was injured.”

The injuries started to pile up late in the season, and not having a home base to heal and rehab helped contribute to the late-season free fall.

“Spending most of your days on the road travelling on the bus, and not being able to get situated,” Martin said, suggesting the team suffered from not playing at home as they would have in an ordinary season. “Having a homestand of six to twelve games or something — at home, just being able to rest while you’re there. [Being] always on the go, just makes it a little more difficult for guys to stay healthy.”
Story continues below advertisement

Martin was their lone all-star in his second season with the Goldeyes. He led the team in batting average (.301), home runs (16), and runs batted in (51).

“He was a warrior this summer,” Collier said. “He probably played the last three weeks hurt, but he continued to put up numbers.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Goldeyes to play on the road as part of shortened American Association season

It’s been more than a full calendar year since the Goldeyes last played at Shaw Park, and players look forward to the first game back, whenever that will be. And after a full season playing as the enemy, it sure will be nice to have fans cheering for them, instead of against.

“I loved everything about Winnipeg,” Martin said. “I did miss the fans this year. They showed a lot of love last year and I really appreciated that, and hopefully, I can get back up there next season.”

WATCH: Flashback to 2019

Click to play video 'Winnipeg Goldeyes host last season’s champions in their home opener' Winnipeg Goldeyes host last season’s champions in their home opener
Winnipeg Goldeyes host last season’s champions in their home opener