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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 02/28/2011

Long toss: How important is a fiery attitude?

By Washington Post editors

Thomas Boswell's column from Sunday's paper about Jayson Werth sparked a lively debate. Boswell wrote:

Now, the Nats will find out if the edgy Werth makes their team more fiery or if the franchise's losing tradition will douse some of his flame.

Some commenters -- including LuvDCArea -- questioned the importance of "swagger":

Even if a slightly above average player, like Werth, is able to bring "flame" to the CLUBHOUSE, the Nats are going to need a whole lot of flame, on the PLAYING FIELD.

You're right, getting top-of-the-rotation pitching was a flop. How many teams get very far, without really good pitching? None.

Did the Nats really get players who can significantly increase their lousy run production, over last year's? No.

So, how are they going to have "flame" ON THE PLAYING FIELD? I don't think so.

Others -- such as js_edit disagreed:

I think a lot of people can look ahead to 2012 and 2013 and see plenty of reason for optimism regarding the Nats. But it starts this year -- and fire and attitude are a big part of the equation.

If Werth and some of the other veteran additions can bring the fire and get this year's team to outperform expectations (and I'm talking about approaching .500 and being competitive) then the Nats will be in very good shape for the future.

What do you think? As the Nats prepare for their first spring training game of 2011, how important do you think a fiery attitude is, for this season or for the future?

By Washington Post editors  | February 28, 2011; 12:05 PM ET
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I'd say at least 79 wins worth!


Posted by: asdfghj1 | February 28, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

A fiery attitude for its own sake is kind of silly. Pointlessly silly. A fiery attitude borne out of individual concerns is an exhausting distraction. Both detract from preparation and winning.

A focused attitude, as in mutual teamwide focus, is kind of cool. An individual uncaring attitude toward opponents and even hometown fans is okay by me, as long as there is care for preparation and winning. These guys aren't raising my kids. We sure did like celebrating Zim's Philly walk-off last summer, though.

The season's a marathon ending with a sprint, followed by a 20-minute breather before three consecutive 400-meter relays. Maybe fieriness fits in near the end, but doubtful. Anywhere else it's got to be exhausting.

What's the last successful fiery team? How about swaggering team? How about a successful team full of caring community leaders?

The Nats don't need to spend one second caring about me or my kids or--sorry--Washington Post reporters. Just win.

Posted by: OldDad | February 28, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

These guys basically live together for 6+ months - spending countless hours together in the clubhouse, in hotels, on buses, and on planes. That's when teams are built.

It can't always be on the coaches to call a player out. Players tune the coaches out, and it undermines the manager to be the constant motivator, nag and taskmaster. Players calling each other out in the locker room (and never the press) and motivating each other frees up the coaching staff to instruct young players and make the strategic decisions that lead to winning games.

I think its tough to measure the impact of fiery players in numbers or stats, but I really believe that impact is substantial.

Posted by: CommieX | February 28, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse


Your comment is so good (much better than mine) it's not even funny.

Your definition of what "fiery" was intended to denote, and your examples of its application showing its value are much appreciated.

Posted by: OldDad | March 1, 2011 12:00 AM | Report abuse

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