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The Nationals are too macho for their own good

Jun 4, 2013, 11:32 AM EDT

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Don’t blame me for the word “macho,” which I thought went away when “Three’s Company” went off the year. Boswell uses it. But at least he uses it in the service of a good point:

Nothing in baseball is trickier than figuring out how to handle small day-to-day injuries that can quickly turn into four- to six-week trips to the DL. After 38 seasons of covering baseball, I don’t think anybody is much good at it. But you can spot patterns and problems. Whether consciously or not, the Nats have developed an ultra-macho team culture of playing with “minor” injuries. While the Nats are conservative in recovery protocols after major surgeries, they seem to be just the opposite in dealing with “dings.” It’s not working. And it’s contributing to killing their 28-29 season.

Boswell gives numerous examples of banged-up Nats players whose effectiveness seems to have been hampered by injuries that probably should have landed them on the disabled list.

Boswell doesn’t put too fine a point on who is to blame, however. He politely notes that, perhaps, Mike Rizzo’s assessment of players’ ouchies has not been accurate. He talks about a culture that Davey Johnson has created of players being hard-nosed. He also gives voice to Rizzo’s comments that maybe the players aren’t playing “smart” with injuries.

But as with the case with the Mets a few years ago, isn’t this also an issue for the medical staff? Are they doing their job? Is Rizzo pulling the trigger fast enough on DL calls? Is Johnson’s “World Series of Bust” pronouncement from the spring being taken far too literally? And is the team doing anything about it?

  1. neoshweaty - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    But if you’re not a gritty team and don’t man up all of the time, how do you win games? Do they even have the will to win? I need Kirk Gibson to comment on this.

    • ezthinking - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      Quien mas macho, Mike Rizzo o Ricardo Maltroban? Mas macho, Rizzo o Maltroban?

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        That deserves 1,000 thumbs up! And to all you idiots who thumbs downed it (and clearly are under 45), google it. CLASSIC skit!

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        Perhaps you mean Ricardo Montalban?

    • natslady - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      Mets have a lot of injuries, pitchers especially. Too macho? How about the Jays? Lotta injuries–too macho? Fish, anyone? Complete LACK of machismo ’cause they are babying Giancarlo, right?

      I read that article, he is really grasping at straws. He didn’t like the way Morse was handled? Hey, M’s are doing EXACTLY the same with Mikey (keeping him off the DL, hoping he can play). Guys punch each other in the ribs on Davey’s previous team, and that’s evidence the Nats are too macho? GIve me a break! I understand Boz is frustrated because the Nats aren’t 37-20, but jeez, get a grip on your nerves and tough it out.

      The Espinosa situation is a tough nut. We don’t really have a backup SS in case Desi gets hurt; I say, just think of Danny as Izturis and leave him alone. The doctors told him (a) he could play with the shoulder by building it up in the off-season and (b) the chip in his wrist wouldn’t get any worse. Show me a player who says, “No, doc, you’re wrong, I wanna have my body sliced up.” If Danny were hitting no one would care, but he’s always had holes in his (offensive) game and now they are showing big time, but if everyone else was healthy you could easily carry a glove-only middle infielder, lots of teams do.

      Rizzo & co. are rushing to teach Anthony Rendon 2B (Rendon of the ankle injuries) and get him up by maybe July. This is a departure from what was planned for a star prospect, and it worries me.

      For Nats fans, here is the list of Nats and Mets injuries, plus current stats. We have WAY WAY WAY too many at-bats by guys who should be on the bench as pinch hitters and defensive replacements.

      • natslady - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        Sorry, that was quite a run-on sentence there. I am ashamed of myself. SMH.

  2. bisonaudit - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Their situation at 2nd base is a little more than being macho about dings. They knew Espinoza’s shoulder was a mess already this winter and they chose not to have it fixed and let him play with it.

    Johnson voiced the words “World Series or bust.” Wherever that attitude is coming from, it’s killing this team. Baseball just doesn’t work that way.

  3. nolanwiffle - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    First we ridicule the modern-day athlete for being coddled and pampered…..injuring obliques while combing their hair, and unable to play everyday.

    Then, they attempt to play through injuries that they deem minor……and they get grief.

    They’re not playing well right now. But they will be soon. I’m sensing a 12 and 2 run in their very near future.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      You have the lottery numbers also? I could use those.

      • nolanwiffle - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        4, 19, 34, 42, 44, 82.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:17 PM

        Excellent. I’ll go tell my boss to lick my ass right now.

      • nolanwiffle - Jun 4, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Excellent idea…..your problems are over. At least that’s what I’m seeing at the moment.

  4. rocketsteadman - Jun 4, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    You had me at World Series of Bust!

    • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      What if it’s moobs?

      • rocketsteadman - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        You just ruined it for me. But I guess with all the changes nowadays, we need to consider Moobs.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        Sorry. Didn’t mean to be a Debbie Downer there. As you were.

      • rocketsteadman - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        Haha, no prob. Bill more than made up for it with his Sofia Vergara v Olivia Munn comment.

    • MyNameIsWilliamBillForShort - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      I’ll take Sofia Vergara vs Olivia Munn. I believe Sofia would be a -140 favorite to win in 6.

  5. nategearhart - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Craig, “macho” wasn’t officially retired until just two years ago, with the passing of the Legend.

  6. historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Somebody has to do it:

  7. Walk - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    As long as the players are notifying medical staff and trainers of injuries the players are doing their job. It seems like they is a disconnect somewhere though. Whether it is on players, medical staff/trainers, coaches, manager, or even the front office is something that remains to be seen. My opinion only but it seems like a major league starter at 75% health is often as good as his back up if not better so I do understand them wanting to play when wins are tough to come by right now. The nats bench is a bit weaker than most contenders as well. This may be leading to injured players staying in the line up which creates a more serious injury from a minor one.

  8. paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    I can’t help but think there is some degree of confirmation bias in these types of observations and conclusions, and by “some degree”, I mean “a lot”. The only time you ever hear about these types of dings is when they have obvious manifest effects. There are guys playing through a bunch of minor injuries all the time that we don’t hear about because playing through such things often isn’t a big deal….which is why players always try to do it and why teams support those decisions if further risk of injury isn’t an issue.

    Every off-season there are scores of stories about “unexpected” minor procedures on players because their condition wasn’t made public and they played through the season with it.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:02 PM

      BTW, MVP Miggy played with a sore back in May. That is grrrrrrrit!

      • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        …and macho.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Rowr! 😉

      • indaburg - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        Miggy es todo macho.

        I’m feeling vulnerable. I don’t want to see Miggy batting against my team. (muttering) Chris Davis, 11 RBIs, .OPS 2.179 in 3 days vs. the Rays, it’s impossible, Miggy can’t top that, can he? CAN HE? No, no, no es posible. Mommy.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        Get ahold of yourself, woman. You’ve got another 3.5 hours til game time.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 4, 2013 at 7:10 PM

        Get off the field! >:(

  9. xmatt0926x - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Is it really surprising to anyone that a bunch of young guys would attempt to play through injuries and end up hurting themselves more? If a guy goes out with every injury a pro player will inevitably get then you’d start hearing whispers about his toughness and willingness to play through pain to help the team. How many times did Chipper Jones get on a teammate through the media because he wanted them to play through pain? I don’t blame these players one bit. It’s not being macho. It’s really just what’s expected of them, right or wrong.

    • paperlions - Jun 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      I seriously doubt the Nationals are playing through injuries more than any other team….people are just flailing about trying to explain reasons for their disappointing season to date. There are many reasons, but I doubt that an unusual bent toward machismo is one of them. Every team does this, they always have…most of the time, a player doesn’t require outside influence, they all want to play.

  10. misterj167 - Jun 4, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    If we had more players like Bryce Harper, we’d have less players like Bryce Harper.

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