Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
If you have witnessed Padres Twitter this season, you probably have come across GIF’s of tanks running things over and exploding.
Padre fans had expectations of a last place finish, while flirting with 100 losses. The team was on their way to a “tank” season, gunning for the #1 overall pick of the 2018 MLB Draft. That all still may come to pass.
However, to reach 100 losses, the Padres must finish 15-42, which is highly unlikely even for a rebuilding team such as the Friars.
Tanking is bad for sports. It kills the very soul of why we love them.
It compromises competition. Tanking also indicates that a team is losing on purpose to achieve a high draft pick. The Padres are not doing this.
I, for one, have never been a fan of “rooting” for the team to lose in order to achieve a high draft pick. The MLB Draft is the crap-shoot of all the crap-shoots. Surely Friar fans can list off numerous players the Padres have passed on in drafts of the past (most recently passing on George Springer and Sonny Gray in 2011 and Corey Seager and Addison Russell in 2012). Getting the #1 overall pick does not ensure getting someone who changes the franchise and guarantees a playoff run (see Matt Bush in 2004). Scouting and player development is the key to success.
Why trash a season for something not guaranteed? Isn’t it more fun to root for the team to succeed? Why cant the Padres try hard to win now while building for the future?
There is something to be said about building a winning culture. You can put all the all-star players together, but unless they know how to win together, it won’t matter. We see it year after year. A team “wins” the offseason with all these signings and yet they miss the playoffs. So why not embrace winning, whenever it happens? Baseball is hard enough as it is.
The foundation of this organization is built on the pillars of Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot and perhaps some other youngsters yet to make a splash. This core needs to learn how to win at the highest level. They need to be thrust into critical situations and learn to come out on top. Winning a World Series just doesn’t “happen.” It takes years of preparation, whether by an individual player or a team.
Going back to Coach Lombardi’s quote, winning and losing can become habitual. If the Padres keep losing, it becomes a habit, even as the players grow and progress, losing is still the mentality ingrained in their minds. In order to break that habit, the Padres need to win, or at least keep putting these players in positions to win. This isn’t saying I am expecting this team to make the playoffs every single year, but winning needs to be a priority. Tanking is bad for the development of the young core pieces the Padres already have with the big club.
Let them progress. Let them win.