Before Dusty Baker took over as Nationals manager, he had heard the stories about their clubhouse, about how infighting and disputes both public and private had played a role in their derailment both on and off the field in 2015.
Baker, though, has been pleasantly surprised thus far through 18 games in the regular season.
"Probably the camaraderie is better because all I heard was how dysfunctional this team was. That's all I heard. I haven't seen it and I don't want to see it," Baker said.
Winning, of course, helps. The Nationals have the best record in baseball at 14-4 and are mostly healthy. Everybody likes to win and the Nats have faced very little adversity so far.
"Winning makes it fun," Baker said. "And it's like any other office. If people get along then you've got a chance to be more productive and you're pulling for each other much more than when you don't get along. There's nothing worse when you're in an office where you don't like the people there and half of them don't like you. That doesn't make it very pleasant to come to work."
First baseman Clint Robinson also touched on the topic and said some of the stuff from 2015 may have been overblown, anyways.
"I think the negative comments about our clubhouse came as a result of us not living up to expectations. People, they look for a reason as to why we didn't reach our expectations last year. And one of those reasons was a dysfunctional clubhouse, but I don't think that was the case. We didn't play like we should have last year, but this is a new year. I think we have a great group of guys," Robinson said.
Baker has also been pleased with his working relationship with general manager Mike Rizzo. Baker didn't know Rizzo well before joining the Nationals, but heard good things from former Nats manager Matt Williams, whom Baker coached in San Francisco. He also spoke with Johnny DiPuglia, the team's vice president of international operations.
"What I've learned is that he's very compassionate," Baker said of Rizzo. "He's easily excited. He knows baseball from a player's standpoint which is different from most general managers that you're going to run into. He's a former scout and talent evaluator. I think about half my job is evaluating talent and what I think the talent might become. He has a heck of an idea. I really like working with him. He trusts me. He trusts my judgement on things, which makes it easier to work with somebody that trusts you."
Rizzo handed Baker a talented roster and the 66-year-old skipper is happy with how things have gone to this point.
"This was a good team when I got here. I'm just trying to help us be better without getting in the way," Baker said.