I know it would be easy to call the Padres choke artists… heck you might even have the numbers to back it up.
On August 25th, the Padres looked like a team of destiny. They improved their record to 76-49. They were up by 8 games in the loss column over San Francisco with 37 games to play.
The Padres had a better record than anyone else in the National League by 5 games in the loss column and were on a run where they won 12 of 15 games.
And then it happened.
The 10 game losing streak.
Squandering a 6 ½ game lead in 16 days.
Finishing the season 14-23.
And now out of the playoff picture. The playoffs start this week and the Padres are playing golf.
On the surface it looks like a huge face plant.
But let’s call Doc Brown and go back in time.
Going into this season, the Padres (with the NL’s second lowest payroll) look like they would be sitting with the Nationals, Pirates and Mets as the few National League teams with no hope.
The only questions going into 2010 were “Where is Adrian Gonzalez going to be traded?” and “Should the Padres deal Heath Bell as well?”
What if I told you a Padres team that EVERYONE seemed to have picked for 90 losses would actually be a 90 WIN team?
That they would be in contention for the entire season with arguably the deepest bullpen in baseball and make it all the way to the last day of the season before being eliminated?
That they would play 3 “lose and your season is over” games on the road and win the first 2?
You’d think I was crazy and demand to know the physics of time travel.
But I think the season should be judged based upon expectations and outcomes. A team whose payroll is less than what the Red Sox paid for Tim Wakefield, J. D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett this year, is not expected to win more games than the Red Sox.
But they did.
A team with a no name rotation and line up (save for Gonzalez) is expected to contend.
But they did.
They didn’t choke. They destroyed all expectations. If they started off horribly and then caught fire and made it to 90 wins, they’d be considered a triumph.
This isn’t going to look pretty for San Diego’s underrated tortured history. But this wasn’t a choke.
If the METS did this, it would be a choke. But then again the Mets didn’t even contend despite paying $95 million more for their players.
But that is another post.