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Washington isn’t always a mess

Mar 29, 2013, 6:11 AM EDT

Photo by USA Today

[Joe Posnanski is now a NBC Sports columnist and recently visited Nationals camp]

By Joe Posnanski

VIERA, Fla. – There probably have not been 10 teams in all of baseball history that were quite as hopeless as the 2009 Washington Nationals. They lost 103 games — the second year in a row that they lost 100 — and were the worst team in baseball.
But it was worse than that. The Nationals had just moved into a new park a year earlier … and nobody in the nation’s capital seemed to care. They were 13th in the National League in attendance. Their television ratings appeared to be a misprint. The Nationals averaged just 12,000 homes. That’s “Wayne’s World” territory. And that was WAY UP from what their ratings in 2008.
But it was worse than that. Their farm system was seemingly barren. Baseball America ranked them 21st among the 30 teams. They did not have a single prospect ranked in anybody’s Top 30. The future seemed about as hopeless as the present.
But it was worse than that. The present wasn’t just hopeless, it was hideous.
Their right fielder, Elijah Dukes, had been involved in so many off-field incidents, the team hired a former police officer to watch him at all times (though not too well since Dukes would talk later of smoking pot before Nationals games). To play center field, they acquired Nyjer Morgan, who said his on-field name was “Tony Plush” and would show a special talent for barreling into catchers.
Their best player, Adam Dunn, was so bad defensively in left field and at first base that despite hitting 38 homers and posting a .398 on-base percentage, the Wins Above Relacement (WAR) statistic still rated him worse than a replacement player (his minus-43 fielding runs is the worst fielding performance in baseball history).
The pitching staff’s 5.00 ERA was the worst in the National League. The starting pitching was such an irreparable mess that, in desperation, they signed 34-year-old Livan Hernandez, who had pitched for five teams the previous four years. And one of those teams was the Washington Nationals.
When it gets this bad, what do you do? Where do you even begin? And how does it then become baseball’s best team in three years?
“Step by step, without skipping steps,” GM Mike Rizzo says.
Can it really come down to a simple cliche?
  1. Faraz Shaikh - Mar 29, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    WOW someone is working late.

  2. Doug - Mar 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    "But it was worse than that. The Nationals had just moved into a new park a year earlier … and nobody in the nation’s capital seemed to care."Great article about how fast this turnaround for this team has been. It's been great watching this team grow and the amount of amazing offseason acquisitions/trades that have worked out.Understand what you are getting at in the article about Nats fans/ratings/uniques for Nats anything, but there was a decently strong contingent of truly devoted fans in the nation's capital who "did care" and still care. Glad that the DC fans are now on board the Nats bandwagon (and ratings and attendence are going up)but we shouldn't underestimate the true fans that have been there from the start. Regardless, anybody thats a Nats fan this year all I have to say is there will be baseball played in Nats Park very soon…Go Nats! World Series or Bust!

  3. NatsNut - Mar 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Hi Joe. Nice to have you here and thanks for the great article. Ryan Zimmerman was the first round pick in 2005, not 2006 though.

  4. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Points out how good Rizzo has been and just how bad Lerner's were to insist on keeping Jimbo for those first 4 years and faking it on building the scouting base. I am glad the article did not go to the dark places in 2006 – 2008. Most of us went there (game after game) and it forever changed how I watch this team. Wish it did not but it did. We never should have been so bad and so hopeless. No team should ever start Logan or Watson types on opening day. I will never forget the mistakes and laziness and cheapness this team made. the Drunken Opening Day red carpet laid for the Phils, Lastings being late for Opening Day Game. Manny Acta being the cheapest manager as a rational for hire….just a very bad place for me.I watch this team today through that lens and expect them to win 110 games and the World Series this year. They owe that to this city.

  5. MicheleS - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    JayB, the Cubs owe it to the city of Chicago to win the series like a bazillion times. Also, remember MLB ran the team in to the ground so it was worse off than most expansion franchises. Jimbo was a tool and StanK was a bad salesman. Let's move on and enjoy what we have now.

  6. MicheleS - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    And I love that Joe P is writing about the Nats. He is by far one of the best sports writers out there.

  7. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    You can say it is sad or stupid…don't care but don't say being so bad was on purpose and helped us get Stras and Harper. That is just stupid.Trout was drafted after Storen and countless Cy Young and Hall of Fame pitchers are not number 1 picks. We did not need to be so bad to be this good. That is stupid.

  8. MicheleS - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    JayB, never said it was sad or stupid, Said, Let's move on and enjoy what we have now.

  9. Joe Seamhead - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Leave it to Jay B to piss in our Wheaties first thing. JayB, you really weren't the only one suffering through the early years. Quit living in yesterday's darkness.Be here now; we have a very good team, it's going to be in the mid 60's for Monday's opener, and bring your sunglasses, cause the future is looking bright.I, for one, don't see this team winning any 110 games. That's crazy talk, man. Look at our schedule. Look at how several other teams have also improved dramatically.I have no expectations that this team will win the World Series, but I tip my hat to the Lerners and Rizzo for building a team that this city can realistically hope, without looking through rose colored lenses, for not just this season, but for years to come.Great column, Mr.Posnanski.

  10. NatsNut - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I love seeing a national writer dig a little deeper than just Harper and Strasburg. And he devoted only one paragraph to the shut down and even then it was to make the point that Rizzo had a plan. Good stuff.

  11. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Jimbo was a tool. Mark Lerner IS a tool….I will never forget walking up the ramps at RFK behind Jimbo, Stan and Little Mark tagging along needing to almost jog to keep up. You can imagine the conversation but it had lots self-serving comments by Jimbo and Mark lapping it up….all the way to the top of RFK. It was an amazing eye opener on why Jimbo keep his job so long and why Nats were so bad for so long. On a plus side I always appreciated Stan walking the upper deck at RFK, stopping to ask you the food and listing to how bad the baseball was. Stan had that one redeeming quality.

  12. Laddie Blah Blah - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Great write-up by Mr. Posnanski, and he gives the credit where it is due. Mike Rizzo is to the frrnt office what Harper is to the playing field. The man never stops, never rests on his laurels, and is always working on his game – which is to make the Nats better.Last summer I posted a long comment on how the Nats had become a dominant team. It was obvious, or so I thought, but most people on this blog still did not see it. This team is even better than last year's team, and I am confident that Mike will field a team next spring that will be even better than this one. The Nats can still improve, and Mike will make sure that they do.Thank you, Mike Rizzo, from a long-time baseball fanatic. You have done the best job of general management I have ever seen, and I go back a long, long way.

  13. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I will be there….always am.

  14. MicheleS - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Laddie, I think last year was a shock to the system on how good this team has become. We expected them to be better, but watching them grow into a dominant team was a thing to behold. As superstitious as I am, everytime I see all the predictions, I am crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and digging out the rabbit's foot.And for your reading pleasure, Amanda has a great article on the Times website – click on the link to the left here and it will take you to all their coverage. (and buy the local papers' today and this weekend, they all are putting out the season preview sections)

  15. sjm308 - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Thanks Chase for actually posting this and not placing on the left hand side. I subscribe to "Joe Blogs" and while Mr Posnaski doesn't always write about baseball, the man is talented. I see what JayB is doing. By predicting 110 wins he now will have something to complain about all season long. Brilliant!!I was there from day one as well and I chose to enjoy or at least try and enjoy each and every day. Just the reek of RFK, the Guinness stand on the way to my seats, the green grass and that simple ground ball to SS with the runner being thrown out by a step (well maybe not if Christian or one of the many others was having a normal day). But seriously, we have BASEBALL here and while having a good team is absolutely fun, its baseball and I love the game and the fact that we have a team!!Go Nats!! Off to freeze my …. off in a couple hours (but I will stay hydrated)

  16. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    106.7 Nats' Davey Johnson at 8:25

  17. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Still trying to reschedule students and see if I will go to the game. Maybe I'll just Metro over to the Park and stay a couple of innings to greet Our Guys! The forecast for Monday is a little chancy, 61 degrees with a 20-40% chance of afternoon showeres, depending on where you look. And the c-c-c-c-cold weather is back on Wednesday.

  18. natscan reduxit - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Happy Good Friday, and Easter, to all my NI friends.… and let me add this. I like Davey Johnson, and think he has been simply great for the Nationals. But I liked Riggs as well. And I still think he was not wrong for asking for what he wanted; the Nats did not show their finest moment by dissing him. Here's what he has to say now:http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/43470394/Go Riggs! Go Nats!!

  19. Joe Seamhead - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    JaneB, loved you in this morning's Weekend section of the Post.sjm308, I tip my hat to you. Yes, we have baseball! And the fact that's good baseball is even better!

  20. 3on2out - Mar 29, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    JayB…it is hard for me to wrap my arms around your negativity. I have been a STH since 2005 and sat thru a lot of ugly losses. But I have been completely drunk on the Rizzo Kool-Aid from the beginning and I can assure you that if you told me in 2005 that by 2013 this franchise would be favored by the national media to win it all…Hallejuah! That wasn't fast enough for you? It had to be in 5 years? Not 9? You must not be old enough to remember the Senators. Because there was no plan, there was no progress. You know the ditty: first in peace, first in war, last in the American League. This is Nirvana! Enjoy it.

  21. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Senators is a very low bar indeed.I have always said going back to Chris and SBF and Barry's blogs that they should have taken a dual approach. Spend money now…they have it. Put the best product they could on the field WHILE AT THE SAME TIME…spend on draft, spend on Scouting, SPEND on Managers and Coaches. The truth came out that they did none of it for the first several years. If they had fired Jimbo and Stan wanted in 2006 then yes we could have been this good in 2009 and 2010. We could have opened Nats Park with a winning team.

  22. JaneB - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    What a fun post to read today! Our long Nationals Nightmare truly is over.In the realm of grass is always greener, I'm finding it less charming to have everyone think our boys will take it all that I'd predicted. Like Michelle, I'm crossing everything and grabbing totems to prevent disaster. Enjoy the game today, my Imaginary Friends! Scope out all the food and tell us what's new and worth it and where to find it!GYFNG!

  23. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Coulda been worse … you coulda been in Pittsburgh.

  24. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    OTOH … none of this was a given. This us mostly down to one guy. What if somebody else had hired Rizzo first? What if they had not criminally mismanaged the DR facility, just simply fumbled around incompetently, but not enough to get Jimbo fired?

  25. NatsNut - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Laddie, with all due respect, what in the world are you talking about with this sentence? You were the only one on this blog who saw the team's dominance? Wow. Laddie Blah Blah said…Last summer I posted a long comment on how the Nats had become a dominant team. It was obvious, or so I thought, but most people on this blog still did not see it.

  26. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    *is mostly. Typing with mittens on, apparently.

  27. NatsNut - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Okay, now I need some advice on a very important subject. I brought my regular red curly W hat, but also brought my red "2012 Postseason" hat. Which one do I wear to the game today?

  28. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Pittsburgh yet another low bar. Just as many of you do not get me, I do not get your "anything will due" standards…..I too was and would be happier with anything than nothing but what does that have to do with anything?

  29. Joe Seamhead - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    3 or 4 years ago I'd rather have been losing with the Nats than winning with the O's…oh, what's that you say? The O's were losing then, too? Well, fast forward to the here and now and I'd rather be winning with the Nats than losing with the O's. Or the Yankees. Or the RedSox…etc.etc. etc. Let"s face it, it's a good day to be a Washington Nationals fan!

  30. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    "Spend money now…they have it. Put the best product they could on the field WHILE AT THE SAME TIME…spend on draft, spend on Scouting, SPEND on Managers and Coaches."In fairness, I was of that camp from 2006, too. Water under the bridge now, of course.

  31. Section 222 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    NN, I'm going with the postseason hat on O.D. Where else is anyone going to notice what it says?And ditto to your riposte to Laddie. Seriously Laddie? Did peric take over your account?

  32. Nattering Nat - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    To each his own. As a native DCer who grew up with the Senators and lived in NYC during the Yankees World Series Ron Guidry/Reggie Jackson days, I try to spend my days seeing the glass as half-full around here as much as possible nowadays, after 34 years without a team here. I agonize as much, if not more, than most over both real and imagined shortcomings of the Nats of the past few years.I'm so tired of complaints by outsiders about how the population of DC didn't/doesn't support its baseball team. As has been reported ad infinitum, there are/were good reasons for a metro area bereft of a local team for 34 years not to go gaga over a team MLB stripped and left for dead.The fact we are where we are now is nothing short of astounding. Not luck, of course, and so I subscribe to In Rizzo We Trust with others. And love what we've got. For anyone who develops an entitlement mentality and thinks they are owed a World Series, I ask, why bother even watching? You are surely going to be disappointed 90-95% of the time, maybe 100%, and who wants to go through life with a black cloud permanently over one's head? That comic strip disappeared a long time ago….

  33. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    "Just as many of you do not get me, I do not get your "anything will due" standards….."That may be b/c you consistently misrepresent as badly as you consistently misspell. And we get you just fine, we just don't agree.

  34. D'Gourds - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    You know, I hate to be too optimistic, but…I have a feeling the 2013 Nats will win>100 games if for no other reason than they play 19 games against the Mets, Marlins and…the Phillies. Yes, I believe the Phillies are going to crash and burn this year. Halladay is damaged goods, their outfield is subpar, and the team is old. The Nats and Braves BOTH could end up with more than 100 wins. Hope I haven't jinxed us. Ah, superstition is moronic. I'm with Davey, baby. World Series or BUST!

  35. Joe Seamhead - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Life is like a camera. Just focus on what's important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, just take another shot. JayB, remember all the screaming here about how cheap the Lerners were when they let Adam Dunn walk? Turns out it was actually one of Rizzo's best moves. If a season is a marathon rather than a sprint, the building of a good baseball franchise is an epic adventure. Call it "The Game of Balls."

  36. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    NatsNut … postseason cap (jaybee has a pistseason cap?) Friday, not Minday. Bad mojo, mijo.

  37. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    JayB, it's theoretically possible that the Lerners could have spent like the Dodgers are spending now in their first year or two of ownership.The Dodgers have new owners, but that ownership is experienced in what being associated with a sports franchise means–the Lerners were not. The Lerners were "chosen" because they were wealthy and local, not because they had any history of sports-franchise ownership. Yes, they definitely made mistakes, and they definitely listened too much to the smooth-talking Jim Bowden. Yet, at some point, they saw that wasn't working, and being accustomed to success, they figured it out. (And we don't know yet how all that Dodger spending will work out in the first year of all the star players being on the same roster).But even if they had spent spent spent, there are simply NOT that many good coaches, minor league scouts, etc. AVAILABLE at any given moment. MLB (and Loria) had stripped the Expos bare. Maybe you remember Mark Lerner for an overheard conversation. I remember him re-watching the DVD of Strasburg's debut dozens of times when things weren't going well. Personally, I think it's simply amazing what Rizzo and company have done in so few years. Other teams (yes, the Pirates, Cubs) languish for years. Other ownerships (KC Royals, I'm looking at you) force their front-offices to accelerate the plan beyond what is wise. There is NO WAY the 2009 team could have been a winning team. None, period. I was there. Maybe they could have eked out a .500 season with foolish spending and bringing up, bring up, bringing up–WHO?Once Rizzo was here, in charge, and had the trust of ownership, he worked fast and systematically to build a team that won't be a one-year wonder. Your dislike of the Lerners is misplaced, unreasonable, and petty. (in my opinion). Get past the past and enjoy the present.

  38. Nattering Nat - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    By the way, I've been a full STH since Day One when the team returned. I felt I "owed" it to the city to support the team. I'm I'm darn glad I did.

  39. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    I thought the biggest change in philosophy in the transition from 2010 to 2011 was going with athletic players who could play defense in what you could call players who could go from 1st to 3rd on a single and score from 1st on a double while also playing "team defense" plus the behind the scenes of bolstering the farm system and creating change in the clubhouse. I give you a name: JAYSON WERTH.If JayB wants to complain about the years gone by, supposedly and claimed by Boras that he kept telling Mr. Lerner it wasn't time to spend the big money on a Free Agent until 2011 when they got Jayson Werth then JayB can go on blaming but how lucky the Nats didn't get Mark Teixeira! I believe there was a plan in place the whole time. Hanging on to Alfonso Soriano and Adam Dunn to receive comp picks instead of trading for a prospect would be huge in what you consider has now turned into Jordan Zimmermann and Denard Span and a few other prospects.Jayson Werth single-handedly changed the attitude (not Natitude) in the clubhouse in 2011 and helped get rid of Nyjer Morgan or as Rizzo's friend said getting rid of the "A——-".I think Jayson Werth is the biggest reason for the quick change from 2010 to 2011 as you all of a sudden had players believing and its mind over matter and positive mental attitude. The youth were buying in and getting it done and then Rizzo added Davey Johnson to manage the change.The biggest change from 2011 to 2012 was starting out of the gates fast and the addition of Bryce Harper. Could you ask for a better example of the philosoply of athleticism, defense and NATITUDE?

  40. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    One of the best lines in the article is that the Nats are so good they don't have to be lucky. It will be interesting if what the O's did can be repeated. BTW, I don't mind the O's coverage at all. It gets me out of my Nats shell, and makes me look at the AL teams and situations.

  41. bowdenball - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    natscan reduxit said…"And I still think he was not wrong for asking for what he wanted; the Nats did not show their finest moment by dissing him."This is a generous description of what happened. He didn't just ask for what he wanted, he quit in the middle of a season and a winning streak when he didn't get it. And the Nats did not "diss" him, any more than a team "disses" a player who is in the final year of his contract and does not receive an extension when he asks for one. If the team doesn't think the person provides value or if they think they can do better, that's their option, and it's up to the person to prove otherwise or to prove his worth for a future employer for the remainder of the season. Imagine how the baseball world would have reacted if Adam Dunn had quit the team halfway through the 2010 season because the Nats refused to extend him even though he wanted to stay. He would have been absolutely destroyed by the media and fans, far more than Riggleman was and is.

  42. alexva - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    JayB, whether I get you or not I do get that nothing is as absolute as you seem to make it. "if they'd benched Danny", "if he hadn't pitched Storen 3 days in a row"… you then search for some hidden motive or agenda "Rizzo was happy with what he had", "Davey's not trying to win it all this year" because, in your mind, it's a given.every decision has risks and consequences. you know baseball between the lines, you should play to your strengths

  43. NatsNut - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    postseason hat it is. Thanks!Also, this:Bryce Harper's (fake) gmail inbox

  44. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Ghost, I'm in agreement with you on Werth and attitude, and getting rid of a********'s. However, you also have to have talent. Otherwise it's just a lot of hot air and as it said in the article, having a few guys that will bring in fans. That's what Dunn was, and as far as I'm concerned, that's what Morse was, also. In the long run, as fun as both of those boppers were to watch, I don't think either decision will be regretted. Think of the patience that it took to develop Desmond and Detwiler, both of whom had big flaws in their games. Espinosa has a flaw in his game, and we'll see if it has been rectified, but I'm a big fan of his athleticism and his determination.

  45. Tcostant - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    What a great article, lets never forget where we came from. The author is also correct that getting Stras and Harper those years we had the worse record was also lucky. Sometimes you get a Ken Griffy Jr. or Arod type, but sometime you get Brad Benson.

  46. Dave - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    After reading that great piece by Joe P., I was going to get on here and scream about HOW PUMPED I am!!! to go to Nats Park today and see the boys beat up on the bedraggled Yankees.Then I made the mistake of scanning the comments and accidentally stumbling on the unbelievably negative slant put on the current situation by JayB.But then I decided that JayB's complaining about how awful things used to be, and how much better they should be now, is just the way it goes here on NI.So let me scream very loudly: I'M PUMPED! GYFNG!

  47. Tcostant - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    My last post was before reading all the post (on he article). But good points are made, those early days when the Lerners were still learning were bad. Not paying scout reimbusements fast enough was the worst of it IMO (thw washington post did a big article on this a few years back).One thing Rizzo did as soon as he became GM was hire more scouts and upper management scouts and get the Lerners to invest in draft picks over slot who those scouts liked.

  48. Dave - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Oh yes, and I will be sporting my red 2012 NL East Champions cap this afternoon. Let's have some baseball!

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    NatsLady, thanks but I believe in team chemistry and that positive mental attitude goes further than people think and talent is defined as: natural ability: an unusual natural ability to do something well, especially developed by training and I believe you can train better by finding those who believe. Intangibles are huge. You can't measure it. It's the X factor.

  50. sm13 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Great column, reminding us of the importance of patience and strong values. I am proud to have been with this team through the dark ages and, now, into the age of enlightenment.

  51. SCNatsFan - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    One thing for sure, if you've been s fan of the franchise for more then 15 minutes then you know it's best to enjoy these good times while they are here because they won't last. I've been amazed here in SC how more Nats 'gear' is in town then ever before. I'm not the only guy in town playing golf with a curly W on my hat anymore.

  52. JayB - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Last word by me before I try and likely succeed (I hope) to move on from those dark days. Yes, you are correct I really enjoy the season more than the off season.Money talks and they could have hired any number of top scouts, GM/Front Office types and Managers in 2006.I was never a advocate of resigning Dunn or Alfonso….In fact those type of deals was the only effective tool Jimbo had in his tool box. Sign or trade for next years Type A or B FA and let them walk for the draft picks…..Then sign a new bunch for the following season. They were not costing any prospects paying time that is for sure!Game On….I am moving on……thanks for not always harping on my spelling by the way :)

  53. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    sm13 said… Great column, reminding us of the importance of patience and strong values. I am proud to have been with this team through the dark ages and, now, into the age of enlightenment.March 29, 2013 9:55 AM I think that's what makes it all that much sweeter going from poor to rich in self-made style rather than teams that try to buy championships like the Yankee$ and now the Dodger$.

  54. Knoxville Nat - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    JayB, if the Nats "only" win say 101 games and the NL east title to go with it, does that constitute a failure by your standards? Will this generae another one of your infamous "Rizzo failed" rants once again?

  55. sm13 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Well put Ghost. I think that's why we have pride in our team, rather than the sense of entitlement exuded by Yankee fan$. (I liked your use of the $)

  56. Knoxville Nat - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Uh, that would be "generate" not generae.

  57. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    There was a point, too, when management decided that acquiring head cases and one-dimensional players like Byrd, Flop, LoDuca, Milledge, Dukes, Young, Morgan, Marquis, Dunn, etc., was not only not making the team any better but was retarding development and turning off the fan base. When Rizzo and Boone and other baseball lifers were handed the reins they decided (after the Morgan disaster, anyway) that in order to draw 35,000 fans to every game they needed to not only be competitive but they needed to put players on the field that didn't make fans cringe. Knowing that it might take more time, they started to not only draft, develop, trade and sign smarter but also to field players who fans would enthusiastically support. We are excited about this team not only because they win but because we don't have to tuck our heads under our arms when one of them comes to bat.

  58. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Ghost, it's not that I disagree with you. It's just that I've seen many, many students (probably in the hundreds) who "wanted" it a lot but just didn't have the raw material. At a certain point, they get into a "competitive" situation–usually a recital or an audition–where they either stumble badly or they observe how much better a really talented student does. Those students may play with both pleasure and skill, but they are not going to be professional musicians.I've seen a few dozen who had the talent but didn't have the drive or the support system. To me, those are the three components, talent, drive, and support.You find students who are talented but don't realize or aren't willing to put in the hours it takes. It's easy to spot them, and to show them up–and if they are teenagers I usually do, and they get a shock. (I'm much gentler with the younger ones…)Then they either wash out, or they find it within themselves to develop. All I can do for them is show them that talent is necessary but NOT sufficient.The final factor in my observation is a support system. Typically, this is parents/family who are willing to travel with the student, pay for lessons, encourage the student, etc. This is why you often finds musicians in musical families, athletes in athletes' families, etc. (It's rare–but possible–to make it "on your own," but even then you will find a coach or mentor in the picture.)Not only are those children exposed early, but the parents have a pretty good idea what it takes. How many times have I heard a parent complain–my (six-year-old) doesn't practice." Well, lady, that's up to YOU, not the child. If you feel it is as important for the child to play piano as to read, then you will make that happen. If you don't it won't. Parents who feel it's more important for the child to have a calendar full of "play dates" may rear a well-adjusted child–but if they have a really talented child born to them they might want to adjust their methods. It's a tough choice.

  59. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Theo, every team makes mistakes and sometimes you are rewarded on a dumpster dive like the Nats were with Michael Morse, but I think the team has very few regrets on any of the players you named because they knew what they were trying to do in buy low fashion in a trade or spending some cash in Free Agency except. Again, Adam Dunn is now Denard Span and Brian Goodwin.The mistake they made with Flop, LoDuca, Milledge, Dukes and Morgan was that they were all cancers in the clubhouse and Nyjer Morgan was a ticking time bomb. Again, thank Jayson Werth as Nyjer Morgan blamed him for his departing the Nats. Thank you Jayson!

  60. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Also, re: the Yankees. (I've spent exactly 3 days of my life in LA, on a business trip many years ago, so I am clueless as to the culture there.)New Yorkers–and I DID live there a long time and married a guy from Brooklyn–New Yorkers don't feel ENTITLED to a playoff team, that's not how they feel. They feel DRIVEN to have winning teams–in all their sports. My husband had to turn off the TV to prevent himself from smashing it if the Rangers were losing. New Yorkers are intense about almost everything and REALLY intense about sports. That's what outsiders see, and in my opinion, misunderstand. Yes, they are willing to spend money– because the whole city is an intense, competitive culture.

  61. do1teach1 - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Nice article. But it would've been so much better if 25 percent of the article were about the Orioles.

  62. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    NatsLady, all important factors and some of the greatest talents never succeeded and you can see it all the time in 1st round picks.Taking talent and adding desire and PMA with the ability to positively evolve and stay healthy is the recipe for greatness.If you look at the mediocrity of a hitter and what it takes to be an All Star is taking that season and breaking it into 16 segments of 10 game parts (160 games). In those 10 games the results of 1 1/2 more hits turns that .250 hitter into almost a .290 hitter which takes that .310 OBP to .350.It's doing the little things because we all know that a batter's career is based on failure in outs vs. OBP. Ted Williams career OBP was an eye popping .482 but he still failed to get on base 518 times out of 1,000!

  63. sm13 - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I'm a native NYer, too and know lots of Yankee fan$ and stand by my belief that they feel entitled. They now boo their own players, not just A-Rod, but Cano, too. They seem to have little genuine love, for their team, they just seem to love winning and boasting. Contrast their fans to the Cards fans who attended our playoff home games.

  64. NatsLady - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Getting ready to go to the game. Can't believe I wasn't ready days ago, but I guess I just didn't believe it was time. It's time.

  65. natsfan1a - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Me, too, on being there from day one. (On the ground ball to short, were you thinking this perhaps: "Past a diving Guzman"? Yeah, I thought so. No matter, we were still shouting "Guuuz" from our seats. :-))sjm308 said… I was there from day one as well and I chose to enjoy or at least try and enjoy each and every day. Just the reek of RFK, the Guinness stand on the way to my seats, the green grass and that simple ground ball to SS with the runner being thrown out by a step (well maybe not if Christian or one of the many others was having a normal day). But seriously, we have BASEBALL here and while having a good team is absolutely fun, its baseball and I love the game and the fact that we have a team!! Go Nats!! Off to freeze my …. off in a couple hours (but I will stay hydrated) March 29, 2013 8:08 AM

  66. natsfan1a - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. natsfan1a - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Also, this is where I would have posted as the "Fake RZ" and said "ahem" back in the day. :-) Their best player, Adam Dunn

  68. natsfan1a - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Eh, you're not the only one. Have a good day. :-)JayB said… Game On….I am moving on……thanks for not always harping on my spelling by the way :) March 29, 2013 10:05 AM

  69. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    sm13 said… I'm a native NYer, too and know lots of Yankee fan$ and stand by my belief that they feel entitled. They now boo their own players, not just A-Rod, but Cano, too. They seem to have little genuine love, for their team, they just seem to love winning and boasting. Contrast their fans to the Cards fans who attended our playoff home games. March 29, 2013 11:02 AM Me too and I think you nailed it! Winning gracefully is a good thing.

  70. Unknown - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Does anyone remember when Rizzo and the Lerners would talk about THE PLAN and everyone would be like, "That total horse crap, it will never work" and now they look like geniuses.

  71. Jerry - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    I don't post very often, but I have to say: Criticism of the way the Lerners ran this franchise for the first few years is entirely valid. BUT, what makes them different is that they were willing to learn from their mistakes and have completely turned it around.Just look at the ownership in Miami, or DC's own football team, for examples to the contrary. That may be "setting the bar low" as is the example of Pittsburgh and others, but they are professional sports franchises. And they have been/were/are being run into the ground by poor, block-headed ownership.All to say, the Lerners may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but they've come a long way since then, and they deserve credit for that, because you can cite plenty of examples of owners who never get it. Rizzo probably deserves a lot of credit for that, but they had to listen to him. And they did.

  72. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Jerry, just look up I95 to the reign of terror of Peter The Fail. Took 20 years to see the playoffs.The Nats Plan worked because they stuck to their convictions as painful as it was. You can contrast with the Tampa plan .

  73. tayo - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    That was a great read. I started following baseball and the Nationals the year before we drafted Strasburg. While my experience couldn't certainly have been as bad as other longer term fans, they were bad enough as I experienced the later endings of Elijah Dukes, Christian Guzman time with the Nats. What got me through this was deciding to learn and follow about our Minor league system and teams. It gave me hope that some of the players we had down there could possibly help the nationals turn-around our major league team in the future.

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