Washington Nationals skipper Davey Johnson wears his heart on his sleeve is always open and honest with the media. On Wednesday morning on a popular D.C. sports radio talk show, Johnson certainly gave his honest opinion on Washington Post writer John Feinstein’s latest piece of work.
Essentially, Feinstein says that there is a direct correlation between the decision to shutdown Stephen Strasburg in 2012 with the struggles the ball club has had in 2013. To summarize, he said that the Nationals tried too hard this season. He uses the following line to help prove his point:
The old baseball saying is that good players and good teams “try easier.”
In a sense, Feinstein makes a good point. He also references when Johnson proclaimed “World Series or bust” prior to the season as an extension of the Nationals trying to make everyone understand that shutting down Strasburg wasn’t really that big of a deal. The whole premise of his article is that the Nationals were trying to justify the decision to shutdown Strasburg and ended up trying too hard, and took themselves out of contention.
Johnson didn’t really like that premise. Johnson said on the show Wednesday morning, “I think he’s an idiot. You do what is best for the day. I live by the rule, and Mike Rizzo lives by the rule.” In all fairness to Feinstein, Johnson somewhat contradicted himself when he later responded to a question about if the Nationals would have done better in the playoffs with Strasburg by saying, “probably.”
Personally, I do see Feinstein’s point. However, I don’t think that you can totally attribute the Nationals’ failure this season to that. The Nationals ran into injury trouble, struggled through much of the season with runners at the plate, and the bullpen was also subpar compared to last season.
All offseason long, experts and bloggers like myself will break down the Nationals’ 2013 season and try to figure out what went wrong. In 2012, they won a league-high 98 games. In 2013, they imploded and fell short of the playoffs after being the favorites in preseason.
Feinstein’s article may have been a little harsh, but that doesn’t make him wrong or “an idiot.” There are many factors that we can point to as to why the Nationals struggled this year, and trying too hard can certainly be one of them.
For the Nationals, at least there’s always next year. In 2014, they’ll have less pressure and less expectations after this dismal and disastrous 2013 campaign.