Do you think I’ve listened to more Ted Leonsis radio interviews than anyone in the world? I think it’s possible. That’s a cool accomplishment. I did something with my life.
Anyhow, he gave at least two more on Thursday, and in both he made a similar point: that the Nats — who he still rates as the top team in baseball — can serve as a lesson that you should never take making the playoffs for granted.
Of course, a cynic would argue that 16 out of 30 NHL teams make the playoffs, and only 10 out of 30 MLB teams make the playoffs, so a playoff appearance in baseball is a slightly more significant accomplishment. But the point stands.
Here’s Leonsis, on ESPN 980.
“Our young guns, they’re now in the prime of their careers,” he said. “Their careers are going by, and they’ve made the playoffs six years in a row, and they shouldn’t take that for granted. This year, one of the things that I’ve been preaching to everybody – and I did use the Nationals as an example – I love the Washington Nationals. I love what the Lerners have done with that team. I’m a season-ticket holder. And last year was an unbelievable experience and thrill.
“And I thought this team is and was the best team in baseball,” Leonsis continued. “And they had injuries and some things didn’t work right, and they didn’t make the payoffs. And that stunned me. Because I just took [that] for granted, and I’m sure that team next year’s gonna make the playoffs. But they didn’t make the playoffs. And that’s got to be front and center, that nothing is given to you. That team has made the investments and has all of the talent, and for a variety of reasons it didn’t win. We’ve been taking for granted that we’re going to make the playoffs with the Capitals. We shouldn’t do that. And we need to look at that as a gift.”
And here’s Leonsis on 106.7 The Fan.
“I don’t think we should ever, ever, ever, take making the playoffs for granted,” he said. “That’s one thing I’m trying to protect the franchise from. It’s not a given. I made this comment the other day: I admire what has been built with the Washington Nationals. And I’m a season ticket holder. And I think they have the best team in baseball. I thought entering the season they had the best team in baseball. Last year was spectacular.
“And they didn’t make the playoffs this season – for a lot of reasons – but they didn’t make the playoffs,” Leonsis continued. “That shocked me, right, because this was a gifted team. And it just goes to show, if you have injuries to the wrong players at the wrong time. So I’m reminding people, it’s not a given, ever , that you’ll qualify for the playoffs. And we’re in a new division. So we need to focus on not worrying about Game 7s of first rounds of playoff series; we have to focus on the next game….
“I want us focused first on playing well, playing hard, staying healthy and qualifying for the playoffs. And then if we qualify for the playoffs, then we can focus on what’s success. And obviously we haven’t had great success in the playoffs, and that eats at all of us, but we can’t leap to that conclusion, we have to focus on the here and now.”