Thom Loverro: Nationals are men without fear

By |
Sports,MLB,Nationals,Thom Loverro

In a period of 48 hours, the Washington Nationals put the identity of their organization -- from the front office to the players on the field -- on display for the world to see -- in case the world wasn't already paying attention.

On Monday, the Nationals didn't have the first pick of baseball's amateur draft -- unlike in 2009 and 2010, when they chose Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, respectively. With the 16th pick, they chose a 17-year-?old high school pitcher whose elbow problems frightened away many teams.

On the other hand, Lucas Giolito may be the next Roy Halladay.

"We decided this is the type of player, the type of stuff and the type of ceiling we want here in the Washington Nationals organization," general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters.

No fear.

It's what the Nationals showed on the field Tuesday night when they refused to lose to the New York Mets, winning 7-6 in the 12th inning on Harper's two-out RBI single. The Nationals fought back three times after blowing a 3-0 lead to claim their major league-leading sixth walkoff victory.

No fear.

Harper, the 19-year-old rookie phenom, had that fearlessness before he arrived in the District, but that is why he fit right in with the Nationals' veterans, who recognized in spring training that this kid could help them win.

Harper isn't afraid to fail because he has prepared himself to win.

So has Rizzo. And Davey Johnson.

The transformation of the Washington Nationals on the baseball side from foolish to fearless is remarkable, and it started when Jim Bowden was forced to resign in the spring of 2009 and Rizzo took over as general manager.

A longtime scout, Rizzo faced questions whether he could handle the GM job, but there was none in his mind. Many who wind up in that job operate with the sole purpose of trying to keep it and make decisions accordingly -- the safe decisions, the ones based on self-preservation.

Not Rizzo. He had prepared for this moment, and he was determined he would do it on his terms -- with intelligence and guts.

The intelligence was there when Rizzo kept Johnson close to the organization when many in baseball had kept their distance since Johnson was fired from his last job as Dodgers manager in 2000.

The guts were there when Rizzo stared down manager Jim Riggleman over a contract extension in the middle of the 2011 season. When Riggleman quit, he called on Johnson, 68 at the time and more than a decade removed from a major league dugout, to take over the team.

And Johnson doesn't have a fearful bone in his body.

It's time to take those old "No Fear" T-shirts out of storage.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner