When I watched Jayson Werth‘s epic post-game interview where he referred to Jonathan Papelbon as the “DC Strangler,” I couldn’t help but think to myself, man, this is a great team. They seem like they are having a blast out there
That got me to thinking: What makes a successful team, and do the Washington Nationals have those same traits?
I did a little research on the topic and found our friends at Ursuline College – I hadn’t heard of them either – came up with 10 characteristics of successful teams. I wanted to see if I could find examples from the Nats for each characteristics during this season and see if they really are as great of a team as I think they are.
So, dear reader, please come with me on this journey down social-science lane and try not to make fun of me too much – this is the first time in nine years since graduating college I have used my psychology degree.
1. Clear Goals
#OnePursuit, anyone? This may just be a marketing ploy, but the whole organization seems to have bought in. The goal is a World Series. This team is talented enough and anything less will be a disappointment.
2. Defined Roles
This is a hard comparison because baseball is all about defined roles. The closest thing I can think of is the closer/setup guy rotation. This might need a little bit of work. The closer spot is well defined if not well executed, but the seventh and eighth innings guys are still a work in progress. Maybe the New York Yankees can help with that at the trade deadline?
3. Open and Clear Communication
I think Dusty Baker excels at this. How often do you hear him mention telling guys days in advance they are going to pitch hit or have a day off. This does wonders for your bench players and it shows with their results this year.
4. Effective Decision Making
The jury is still out on this one. Dusty seems to be pressing all the right buttons right now, but that backfired on him during the series finale against the Cubs with his choice of relievers. We can best evaluate this one at the end of the season.
5. Balanced Participation
Can you say bench production? To me, this is the Nats in a nutshell this year. Bryce Harper slumps a bit, and Daniel Murphy picks up the slack; Ryan Zimmerman doesn’t hit well, so Werth is right there.
6. Valued Diversity
Don Mattingly doesn’t allow beards. Dusty does. That’s all you need to know.
7. Managed Conflict
I think the reference to the DC Strangler really encapsulates this trait. They are a family. They can handle a bit of conflict and are able to joke with each other later about it. That, to me, is the best thing about this team.
8. Positive Atmosphere
From the Washington Post: Five perfect images from Jayson Werth walk of celebration.
Need I say more?
9. Cooperative Relationships
Well, baseball is only cooperative relationships. It is an individual team game. You have to rely on your teammates. So, A+!
10. Participative Leadership
I think the Nats this year are especially good at this as well. Dusty lets the players play and be leaders. He doesn’t feel the need to micromanage every event and this allows everyone to have a voice at different times.
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did. You probably didn’t, but I am a psychology nerd, and I have learned to accept it. The bottom line is, no matter the reason, this group is fun to watch and is an awesome team.Tags: Dusty Baker, Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals