We won before because we played like winners. We are losing now because we aren't. It was because we cared more... or maybe less. Or because we had more adversity... or had time to gel under some fortunate circumstances. Or because we were veterans who knew how to play... or youngsters who didn't know any better... or the perfect balance of the two. Regardless of the reason, one thing is clear, the team could play that well again, if only they got over whatever mental hang-ups are currently holding them back.That's not a direct quote from any one of those, but it is the subtext of all of them. It's nothing special to Boz to write a column like this. It's human nature. While I can tell you the "on the field why" of where the success of the 2012 Nats came from (career-type performances from all the bench players and the Top 4 starters) I can't give you the "off the field why". Why did Lombo, Moore, Bernadina, Tracy, Solano, Suzuki, Leon hit like they did all in the same year? Why did Gio and ZNN and Stras and Detwiler all have arguably their best seasons in that same season (well actually the standard performance aging curve would predict that pretty much for Gio and ZNN... but I'm getting off track). I can't tell you for sure. And in the absence of concrete rational explanation, we make up ones that very well could be irrational. That's how our mind works. We need answers.
Dumb luck is probably the right one but there's enough doubt about that, that things like spirit, heart, momentum, leadership, and grit, things we all agree DO effect games (we just can't quantify it), seem like just as good of answers. The problem is when you go in that direction for your explanation it can force you into some logical arguments that aren't fair to the team. If the Nats won in 2012 because they were mentally tough, well then, if they don't win now, it must be because they are no longer mentally tough, right? That does a disservice to the players on the field, as if they could take the World Series if only they had bigger balls and bigger hearts. It also does a disservice by letting management off the hook.
The 2013 Nats didn't lose out because of bad leadership or toughness. They didn't make the playoffs because Rizzo built a terrible bench and never corrected the problem. But to those that believe the former, Rizzo skates. What are the ramifications of that sort of public attitude? Does it cause Rizzo to feel ok building an adequate bench, but not the best one possible? Does it make the Lerners feel enough money was spent to win and it was only because the players didn't try hard enough that they didn't win? Don't know. But in a game where 25-28 teams are honestly trying to make the playoffs in a given year little things like that may matter.
Anyway, here's to sweeping the Phillies and a column after it saying they've won 5 in a row because they are a good team with excellent starting pitching that's beating some mediocre to bad opponents.