Should the Washington Nationals use the impending retirement of manager Davey Johnson as their motivation to get to the World Series in 2013? The 70 year old Johnson has already said that this will be his final season managing the ball club. The Nationals would like nothing more than to send the man who taught them how to win into retirement with a World Series ring.
Teams in every sport look for things to motivate them. Washington already has a heartbreaking NL Divisional Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals to drive them. The Nationals winter months were spent reflecting on how close they were to winning it all.
The impending retirement of Johnson is expected to help Washington stay motivated as well, but should not be their main reason for wanting to get back to the post season. Though Johnson has done a lot for the organization since arriving in November of 2009, he can not play the game for his players. They are the ones who will have to pitch, hit, field and run. The only thing that the manager can do is put his players in the best possible position to succeed.
The Nationals would be better off focusing on getting better as a team. Washington has the talent to be one of the best teams in baseball. They have been built for the long haul and the 2012 season should be used as a springboard to future success. Like most young teams, the Nationals had to experience the playoffs so that they could learn what it takes to win them. The goals for 2013 season should be the same as they were last year.
Washington should concentrate on defeating their NL East rivals. The improved Atlanta Braves and still dangerous Philadelphia Phillies will be enough of a challenge to keep them motivated. Despite winning 98 games last season, the Nationals had to hold off a late season rally by the Braves. The Phillies struggled through a ton of injuries last season. If they can remain healthy, Washington will get a fight from them as well.
If the Nationals can hold off their NL East rivals, then they can use the experience learned from losing to St. Louis. This will help them more than wanting to send Johnson out on a winning note. Johnson, himself, would agree with this. Though he likes the spotlight, Johnson would rather have his players play for themselves and their teammates and not worry about pleasing him. It is one of the factors which have made him successful through the years.
There is no question that the pending departure of their manager will be one of the story lines for Washington in 2013. Whether, the Nationals win or lose people will want to know how Johnson’s career ends and the players want him to go out on a good note.
However, Washington already has enough to motivate them for the next eight months. Johnson’s departure is a part of their motivation, but not the whole.