Before their first full-squad workout of 2010, the Nationals held a 45-minute team meeting in which team president Stan Kasten, general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman all addressed the players.
There was plenty of basic stuff to be covered - team logistics, clubhouse rules, etc. - but the main message of the session was distilled down to a two-minute shot of energy from Rizzo.
"We're putting 2009 behind us. Our expectation is to win," Rizzo said. "The players need to focus to win, prepare to win and expect to win. That was my two-minute rant."
It was a message Rizzo felt was already circulating privately in the Nationals' clubhouse; the team added four players (Ivan Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy, Jason Marquis and Brian Bruney) who all have World Series rings, and with an older corps of players, the level of accountability was on the rise.
He just wanted to make sure the tone was set from the top.
"We're all tired of losing," Rizzo said. "We're all tired of talking about 100-loss seasons and No. 1 picks and that type of thing. We feel we have an opportunity to better ourselves. You have to believe you can win before you start winning."
Both Rizzo and Riggleman talked about putting last year's 59-103 season in the past, and Riggleman also discussed an attention to detail that was often missing in a year where the Nationals committed 143 errors.
"Even if we hit better and pitch better than we did in '09, but we don't take care of the little things, we're not going to be as good as we could be," Riggleman said. "That's the responsibility of the manager and the coaching staff to take care of those things, and the players need to respect the fact we are going to be paying attention to detail. We want to get that kind of response from them, where they're on board with that."
Rizzo refrained from making any predictions about how good the Nationals can be this year, but his message was firm nonetheless.
"Until we show the world we've arrived and we're here to win, it's all about peripheral things," Rizzo said. "I want notoriety for winning games and ultimately winning championships and being that kind of club. We've had way too much notoriety for other things. We want to have interest and passion in the fan base to be excited about what we're doing between the lines and winning games."