Rays working to instill winning attitude
Players hope late spring victories will develop good habit
ST. PETERSBURG -- Vince Lombardi's "winning is the only thing" is a sentiment shared by coaches and managers throughout sports. But the big question remains: How does a team cross that fine line separating winners from losers?
The Devil Rays lost 101 games in 2006 and have yet to experience a winning season in franchise history. Add to that the fact that heading into Thursday's game against the Twins, the Rays had a 5-16 Grapefruit League record this spring. And while this is Spring Training, the Rays feel it might be time to turn it up a notch to start trying to make winning games a habit.
"Winning is all there is," Ty Wigginton said. "That's the only thing in baseball that matters. Everybody needs to throw their personal goals aside when the game starts and focus on that 'W.'"
Carl Crawford believes there is something to the idea of a team learning how to win. The Rays left fielder said he experienced the feeling of winning en route to the Major Leagues.
"To me, it's all about the attitude, the mind-set," Crawford said. "When I went to [Triple-A] Durham, it was already understood that this is a team that's known for winning. Tradition, the team wins all the time, so you got that tradition, so you tell your mind that we're supposed to win. This is a team that wins."
Crawford received another vibe upon reaching the Major Leagues.
"The varsity, you come up here and it's a losing attitude," Crawford said. "It's kind of hard to reverse that. It's kind of like a bad spell or something."
Crawford believes winning some games during the later part of Spring Training could be medicinal for the team in regard to learning how to win.
"I think it would be a good time to start trying to win some games," Crawford said. "Even though it really doesn't matter. But just for the team's sake, you want to start winning some games and just having a better showing."
Wigginton also believes that it is important for the team to learn how to win.
"That's the nuts and bolts for our whole season, getting 'W's', I think so," Wigginton said. "I thought last year, [manager Joe Maddon] did a pretty good job of preparing us to focus on a win. But now, I think the guys in this clubhouse can take it to the next level to get that 'W.' If we're all greedy enough to get a 'W,' we're going to get lots of them."
Wigginton believes playing to win is beneficial where everyone is concerned.
"The main component of winning comes down to people stepping aside for the better of the team," he said. "I think also, when you do that, everybody's personal numbers come out better. And you find yourself moving runners over.
"I know a lot of people say it, but I truly believe the baseball gods will get you that extra blooper whenever you move a guy over. You see that on winning teams."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.