The San Diego Padres have been one of the most disappointing teams of this Major League Baseball season. They enter Friday with a 69-78 record, placing them 6.5 games back in the hunt for the third and final National League wild-card spot. The Padres trail a handful of other clubs, and now have an elimination number of nine. They would, in other words, require a miraculous couple weeks to reach the playoffs.
Predictably, given the amount of starpower and talent on the roster, folks have started to wonder just how these Padres failed. One of the leading theories has entailed poor clubhouse chemistry, something that the Padres themselves have pushed back against. Veteran third baseman Manny Machado offered his own theory to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, suggesting that it had to more so with desire -- or, in the Padres' case, a lack thereof:
"I think we just didn't want it. I think overall as a group, we didn't want it as bad as Seattle did or as bad as some of these other teams," Machado said during a recent chat at Dodger Stadium. "I will say that. I think that's everyone's fault. It's everybody's fault. We didn't want it as a team. It falls down to the team. That's not necessarily one player. It's not an individual sport. So I think ultimately, it comes down to all of us. We should have wanted it more."
That isn't what you want to read or hear if you're a Padres fan — or player. At the same time, the answer is probably more complicated than drilling it down to a collective yearning. The Padres have been unfathomably poor in one-run and extra-inning games this season, racking up a 6-22 mark in the former and an 0-11 mark in the latter. Had the Padres played closer to .500 in those contests, they would very much remain in the playoff hunt. Alas.
As tempting as it may be to ascribe San Diego's shortcomings in close contests to a character failing, there's something to be said about the luck element, too. It's not all luck, of course, but variance almost always plays a role in extreme performances, good or otherwise. That doesn't excuse the Padres' failures this season, and it won't make it easier for Padres fans to stomach Machado's comments. But it's probably worth keeping in mind all the same.