Rachel Levitin: Where’s the sustained fire and passion in 2013 Nats?

While I’ll admit I wasn’t present for the actual bench-clearing brouhaha that went down at Nats Park on Tuesday night, I have to say I for one am glad it happened. Just a couple of weeks ago on this very blog, I was commenting about how this Nationals team doesn’t seem to be fighting for their wins this season. Granted, I went on to explain that I don’t have clubhouse access so there’s no way for me to actually ask the players what their feelings are on how the season’s playing out or anything like that, but I do find it necessary to address that it’s nice to see a little spark of passion from a squad that hasn’t managed to get anything real cooking this summer.

What I was disappointed in come Wednesday night when I was at the ballpark is that the fire seemed to smolder pretty fast. It’s great that the tension between teams did not result in two days worth of troublesome on-field encounters, but this is exactly what’s bothering me about this Nats team. Where’s the fire? Where’s the passion?

You can see it from some - Bryce Harper is a given, Stephen Strasburg always has his game face on, Jayson Werth’s bat toss says it all, and that’s just to name a few notables. Ryan Zimmerman tends to keep an even keel and you can see from interviews with him throughout the season that he’s out there grinding away and doing his job as best as he can given daily circumstances. In fact, I’m sure that’s what the entire roster is doing. Problem is that it’s not exactly working.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the Nats just one day after the bench-clearing fiasco, but it was definitely more than a five-hit, three-run game against the Braves. It’s the second week of August and the more losses Washington tallies, the further away from the 2013 playoffs it continues to get.

A Nats fan who I run into occasionally on the Metro after games flat out asked me the other night, “What do you think it is about this season? What’s so different from last season?”

I’ve had to think about it and while I don’t think it’s strictly a clubhouse chemistry thing, I believe that may have something to do with it. Last year was a season in which everyone, from the top to the bottom of the lineup with the bullpen included, had a collectively strong season all around. Each player no matter if they were a homegrown guy or a recently acquired free agent had a peak season.

This is not that season.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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