The Nationals Seem To Despise Their Manager

Featured imageThe Washington Post has a very long, very deep, three part article detailing the absolute shit show the Washington Nationals have been this season.  It’s one of the better articles I’ve come across in a very long time.  It’s very quickly making the rounds, and is well worth your time.  I will post some highlights, but you should certainly read it yourself.  A lot of anonymous player quotes.  The sort of stuff you really wish you had a name to, but know you’d never get this info without the guarantee of anonymity.  It highlights the fact that Matt Williams absolutely must be fired the day the season ends, if not sooner.

“The first time he does something odd, you’re like, ‘All right, I see. I get it. I’m with you,’ ” one Nationals veteran said. “The next time you’re like, ‘Ooookay. All right. I’m trying to get it. Yeah.’ And then when it keeps happening, guys are watching him like, ‘Well, here comes this guy again.’ ”

When you’ve lost the faith and trust in your players, when they roll their eyes at every move you make, you have a big problem.

The Nationals relievers, though, believed there was more to it than that. They believed the five times Thornton got up the previous night affected his ability to execute the pitch to Granderson, the pitch to Duda.

OK, maybe this is more on the pitching coach or the bullpen coach, but at the end of the day it’s the Manger who hires these people and it’s his call.  You can’t ware out your guy before he even gets into the ball game.  You would think it’s managerial 101.

Throughout the season, when everyday players are going to get a day off, the manager typically finds a way to get the message to a player the night before. The player then can do with that information whatever he wants — get in a more rigorous weightlifting session that night, arrive at the ballpark a little later the next day, whatever. More importantly, a player with a day off can mentally decompress and, for once, relax.

According to individuals with direct knowledge of the situation, Werth hadn’t received such a message from Williams. This wasn’t the first time, and Werth wasn’t the first veteran to experience what players considered an oversight once, an egregious error beyond that.

What might have been a minor blip in a successful season became a boiling point. Incensed, Werth ripped the lineup card off the wall, bellowing that it was going to change. Then, according to several people who were present, he confronted Williams — not just about whether he would play that day but about what most of the clubhouse considered to be a chronic lack of communication with his players. Among the most jarring barbs, from Werth to Williams: “When exactly do you think you lost this team?”

Just wow.  Holy shit.  I get maybe occasionally forgetting to notify a player, or making a last minute decision, but shit, it’s not that damn hard to pick up a phone.

Privately, Espinosa seethed. But people familiar with the situation said Espinosa’s frustration wasn’t entirely because he wasn’t in the lineup every day. It was because Williams didn’t follow through on his plan to find time for him occasionally — and then never communicated why.

Seriously, is it that damn hard to sit down and talk with your guys?  You are with them every day.  You live together on the road.  I get being upset you aren’t playing, but to feel that your manager is outright lying to you?  That’s a problem.

“He’s like the guy in his house who hears a sound, like someone breaking in,” one player said. “And his reaction isn’t to take care of the problem or investigate. It’s to put his head under the pillow and hope it goes away.”

Ouch.  Just ouch.  Your employees are outright calling you a coward.

This is one of my favorite quotes in the entire article.  Part is because I’m a huge Buck Showalter fan, but also because it’s very telling of the atmosphere of a team that has lost all respect in their manager.  It’s the most telling part of the entire article for me.

Machado flung his bat in disgust. Papelbon was immediately ejected. But two telling things happened next: First, as the Orioles hopped over the dugout rail and assembled as one along the third base line, the Nationals’ fielders wandered in from their positions. None of the outfielders made it to the infield dirt. All four infielders ambled about, leaving Williams to argue with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, Papelbon to go at it with umpire Alan Porter.

Second, Orioles Manager Buck Showalter charged out of the dugout and got to Machado quickly. He then stood, arms folded and glaring, in front of Machado at first base. The message was clear: Want to get to my player? You have to go through me.

“You think that would have happened here?” one veteran National said. “No chance.”

I mean damn.  Just Damn.  The is the difference a good manager can make.  Both teams, the Orioles and the Nationals had high expectations for this season.  One turned into a national embarrassment, one held their heads up high and fought together the entire way.  One team had a leader, a man who has their back.  Who will step in and lead them.  The other has a manager who is completely lost and oblivious as if his head is too far buried in the sand to realize what is going on in his own dugout.  Who’s clearly given up on his team, his job, his career and is already completely checked out.

There is a lot more good stuff in the article, too much to really get into.  There’s a lot about the front office and the decisions involving trading for Papelbon in the first place.  There’s a lot about the players and the bullpen, and all the fine details that resulted in this once very promising team absolutely hitting rock bottom.  But for me it begins and ends with the Manager.  I never felt a manager really wins his team any ball games.  A great manager simply prevents the team from losing games by keeping the clubhouse together over the course of a long season, while the players are the ones who actually win or lose the game.

18 thoughts on “The Nationals Seem To Despise Their Manager

  1. Scout and I have been talking about this, but the article is too good to keep it to ourselves.

    For me, the most powerful part of this article is when Jayson Werth calls Williams out and basically tells him he sucks. Honestly, that’s probably the gutsiest move made in that clubhouse all year.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, I’m a pretty big fan of that line….“When exactly do you think you lost this team?”

      I kinda get the impression that Williams still doesn’t realize that he has.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree. I was floored when I read that line. This is one of the worst displays of baseball managing I have ever witnessed.

      I believe based on the data that I have seen that most managers don’t really affect the outcome of the game much except in cases of gross incompetence. This is gross incompetence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I literally went, “Whoa! Holy shit!” when I got to that part of the article. It’s a good thing I was in the parking lot of my office during lunch when I read it.


      2. This won’t be popular, but I’m going to say that I was pretty unimpressed with Werth there. I don’t see any professionalism or leadership in what he said, so it seems like the failure goes all the way around there. In what way was his response a positive contribution? Williams may suck but it seems like he’s unfortunately charged with handling jerks. Yeah, I’d look forward to dealing with Werth and Papelbon too. Not.


        1. The entire team is not filled with jerks, and Papelbon is a new addition. From this article and others I have read, he appears to lack the support of his team. Williams is a poor communicator and a rigid manager, incapable of deviating from a plan. A fight happened 20 feet away from him, and no one thought it was important to debrief him. That alone demonstrates how much this team disregards Williams’ leadership.


        2. I’m not saying Williams doesn’t suck, but I’ve had lousy bosses before and it doesn’t get less toxic by being a jackass back.


        3. I don’t think Werth was being jackass. I’ve had lousy bosses before too and I’ve had to stick up for myself when they did me wrong. The situation got detoxed when the lousy boss got fired.

          Liked by 1 person

      3. If it were an isolated incident histo, I would fully agree. The problem seems to be that it’s just one more in a long repeating pattern of incompetence by the manager, that has lead to players that are completely out of control. Did Werth act like an ass? Absolutely. But was he simply responding to the example given to him by his leadership? Is that an excuse? Not at all. But it does point to a larger problem.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. My take? The guy hasn’t learned a thing since little league. It’s just awful the ONLY new thing he has learned in forty years is they now use closers. Other than that you could have the Ghost of Casey Stengal filling in and you’d have the same results, although Stengal would like the modern stats.

    Matt Williams was a meathead when he played, his head is now meatier as he ages, and he will never adjust to the modern players because they already make more money in a three year period than he did in ten. Some of them have a higher baseball IQ compared to him. He can’t wrap his mind around the concept that it is a great little game he was talented enough to become a millionaire playing. He is thinking ” I had to put up with all the veteran crap and not talking to the skipper ( because you Know he likes Skipper, it’s all old-timey ), veterans with good batting average get played, guys who walk a lot are fraidy-cat’s who clogs up the bases, my starter lost his last four games and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning in any of them, but he’s rested and has 14 wins, the pitching coach said something about an injury, but fuck him! I’m the skipper of this Titanic!

    I’m hoping he doesn’t get recycled and they hire a female coach before they ever give him another coaching job higher than college! I was gonna say little league, but I don’t want that Moron talking to my grandkids.

    IF the Red Sox hire him???…..I’m taking Shaunnesy with me…maybe Lupica too
    ,depending on how much gas I have in my flame thrower!

    Liked by 1 person

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