If you have been following baseball this year, one of many stories has been the upstart seasons of the Cincinnati Reds and the San Diego Padres. Most commentators, analysts and casual fans have been waiting for one of them, if not both teams, to fall off and be taken over by the Cardinals and Giants, respectively.
And the Padres have almost been caught.
They finally broke through with their first win in 11 tries and in the last two weeks the Giants have climbed within a single game of the Padres lead.
For all the young players out there, this is a good opportunity to learn from the Padres and see how they respond. Not in the sense of "don't lose 10 games in a row." Losing streaks will happen. But it is how you deal with your problems that show you, and others, what you are made of.
Some people will start to believe what others think. They will start to agree that they are not good enough or they don't deserve to be there or they are playing above their potential. I've played with and coached players whose performance, at the first hint of criticism, starts to rapidly decline.
The excitement that Heath Bell showed after recording the final out last night against the Dodgers tells me that the Padres feel a huge relief off their back. It also told me that the Padres are not going to fold under the pressure of the last three weeks of the season. I'm not predicting that they will hold on to their lead. But the Giants aren't going to run away with the division.