At last weeks MLB All-Star game, Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole called out 50 percent of Major League for purposely losing. But do teams intend to tank, and is it negative for professional sports? No doubt some organizations take it upon themselves to not put the best product on the field. Who are they to blame, losing in the present is better than seasons of mediocrity.
The Atlanta Braves currently sit atop the NL East, and only a few years ago were on the pathway to being average. In 2014, the Braves collected their first losing season since 2008 and third since 1990 with a 79-83 record, prompting Atlanta to trade its stars. Atlanta dealt Gold Glove Award winner Jason Heyward to St. Louis, and Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrell, and Melvin Upton Jr. to San Diego prior to the 2015 season. And before the 2016 season, the Braves traded away Andrelton Simmons to the City of Angels. The only star Atlanta kept was Freddie Freeman to lead Atlanta into its new age.
The next three seasons (2015-2017) saw Atlanta go a combined 207-278. Fast forward to 2018, and the Braves finished first in the NL East with a 90-72 record. Atlanta ultimately fell in the NLDS against NL pennant winners of the last two years, the Los Angeles Dodgers. But in the end, it seemed the tanking turned out for the best.
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