The Nationals fans were in a state of euphoria last night after watching their team earn a 2-1 victory over the Mariners. They celebrated their team reaching the .500 mark for the first time since May 11.
The fans know this team has something special going on. They wanted to show their appreciation for what this team accomplished. It was a great gesture.
Still, the Nationals did not share the enthusiasm of their fans. When Ryan Zimmerman was asked what it meant to reach the .500 mark, his reaction was priceless. He said it meant nothing. John Lannan chimed in by saying no one is satisfied with being a .500 team.
This is what fans want to hear from the players, especially from the franchise player. This team should have higher goals. This is about building a winning team now and for the future.
It’s time to grow up and be an elite team. That’s what Zimmerman and Lannan were conveying.
There’s no question this franchise has come a long way from losing. It used to be a joke. The players never produced, and most veterans took the money and became content rather than leading the team to victories. Management built this roster by selecting bad guys with talent. It was an unwatchable team.
Maybe that’s why the fans were excited on Twitter after last night’s win. That’s understandable, but Lannan and Zimmerman wants fans to know better times are ahead for them to celebrate.
As a Phillie, Jayson Werth played in two World Series. Getting to .500 meant nothing to him. For him, it motivates him to do even better. When a World Series champion already experienced this type of stuff, this should be embarrassing for him to enjoy this. Same can be said for Ivan Rodriguez.
There’s no question Werth will tell Wilson Ramos, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa that they need to do more for this team to be a contender. He is going to tell those guys not to be content with mediocrity. That’s why the Nats signed him to a ridiculous contact. It’s not just his bat, but it’s his leadership.
It was interesting the guys did not act like they won the championship after last night’s win. That should be encouraging. Riggleman wants professionalism from his players, and that’s a good example by the way the players conducted themselves after the game.
The Nationals expect to win games. They don’t think it’s a big deal to go out and win games every night. They know it’s hard, but they also are paid to get it done.
This team is growing up. It’s something that should please Riggleman and Mike Rizzo.
The Nationals need to make significant progress this season.
The goal is to play meaningful games in September, which means contending for a playoff spot. This team has enough talent to play in those games, especially with many mediocre teams in the National League this year. There’s no question the players realize that, and with the way they are playing, one can understand why the players like their chances of being in the playoffs.
It’s a reasonable goal to have. If they fall short, the Nationals have to win around 77 to 82 games this season. The talent is there to accomplish those goals. They have the pitching, and their offense is good enough to win 2-1 or 3-2 games.
Last year, the Nationals won 69 games. It wasn’t great. Teams on the rise should win around 76 to 81 games, so there is momentum for next season. That’s what the team is striving for.
If the team does that, then it’s okay to celebrate and appreciate this season. There’s work to do right now.
As great as the Nationals are playing, there’s no guarantee they can sustain this. They could revert to bad habits next month or in the post-All-Star break. That might be why the team is being cautious about this accomplishment.
The Nationals can’t afford to be cocky. They haven’t won anything to act that way. If .500 is the standard, then this organization has to wonder about their priorities.
Thankfully, this organization knows better, and that they get it.