Nationals

Quick Links

Rizzo on Johnson and the 'Nationals way'

603650.jpg

Rizzo on Johnson and the 'Nationals way'

At 69 years of age, Nationals manger Davey Johnson is the oldest skipper in the majors. His assuming of the interim job last season was a surprise not only because of his age, he had also been out of the dugout for over a decade. Given these facts, it is unlikely Johnson would profile as a progressive, or even innovative, baseball manager. But in a recent interview with FanGraphs.com, general manager Mike Rizzo stated he thinks Davey is as creative as any of his peers.

Davey is less old-school than you might think. He is a modern-thinking manager, even though his age may not convey that. Hes very open-minded, Rizzo said.

He was using data before data was in vogue. He was using data when he was a rookie player. When Davey was thinking about his raises as a young major-league player he brought out that his on-base percentage was better than that of Player X, who was making X. Hes used numbers for a long time. As you may know, he was a mathematics major, so hes into numbers and he uses them. He always has.

Rizzo told FanGraphs Johnson is one of the best baseball guys he has ever been around. Rizzo clearly respects Johnsons opinion and has been proven right in hindsight. With a series sweep in Boston over the weekend, Johnson now holds a 35-23 record with the team this season and a .532 winning percentage overall in his 143 games as Nationals manager.

But Johnsons effect doesnt stop at the big league level, as Rizzo will tell you, the Nats GM says Daveys influence is felt top to bottom. The former Orioles second baseman and manager, part of the Oriole Way, has brought a similar philosophy to Washington.

We employ the Nationals Way, if you will the way that we like to see things done. And the most important thing there is being consistent, from the Dominican Summer League teams to the major leagues. We like to be all-encompassing and do things the same way at each and every level of our system. That way, when the players do get to Washington, they know the way Davey Johnson wants it to be done.

Rizzo makes it sound almost like the New Jersey Devils of hockey who teach players a specific system to carry over when they make the top club. To their credit, the Nationals have seen great success from their Triple-A promotions. Both Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock showed enough last year to help bring Gio Gonzalez to Washington. Steve Lombardozzi and Chris Marrero have both had success at the major league level, Lomardozzi currently in the lineup and Marrero on his way back from injury. And of course Bryce Harper made his way through the farm system and has shown he was more than ready for the games highest level.

At this point you cant argue with the results of Johnson and Rizzos rule of the Nationals and the creativity of the teams manager may play a larger role than many think.

Quick Links

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

usatsi_10342243.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

Quick Links

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.