Monday, April 09, 2007

Talent, Fundamentals, and Discipline

Honestly, I don't know what to think about our Nats, but, as a longtime baseball fan, I certainly can go on a little rant, so let me share my thoughts on Talent, Fundamentals, and Discipline.

Talent isn't everything. Much of what a player lacks in talent you can make it up with fundamentals. This is a good fix for an individual player, but at the MLB level, individual fundamentals are not always enough. I love fundamentals, and members of section 320 could say that I talk too much about the virtues of sound fundamentals. Well this past week has made me realize that fundamentals aren’t enough. My new theme will be discipline.

Talent is hitting a 94 mph fastball out of the ballpark. Fundamentals can help you make contact and slap that ball to the opposite field. Discipline is not getting yourself into a 1-2 count by chasing the low sliders that will never be a base hit or the first-pitch-high-heat, thus setting yourself up for that two strike fastball. Honestly the high-heat, curve, low-away is not a new innovation in the game. “Work the count!” To do so you need talent, fundamentals, but most importantly, discipline.

I used to consider discipline part of any game’s fundamentals, but maybe discipline was more of an instinct to Yaz, Orr, Havlicek, Bird, pre-evil Roger, Grogan, Teddy and Tom. All of these guys lead their teams to the Championships, some won, some lost (in my lifetime 13 wins and 12 losses). Discipline seemed to be a natural part of their success, and when we lost, we mostly just got out played by the better team (Gibson and St Louis in 67, Morgan and the Reds in 75, Lafluer and Dryden for the Habs in 74, 77, an 78, Ditka’s 85 Bears, Farves Packer’s in 96, and Karim and Magic’s Lakers). I won’t mention other losses, because I have digressed, this isn’t about Boston sports, this is about our Nats.

So, discipline…I previously commented:
Discipline is not just a verb, it is also a noun. Discipline used as a verb is how you let someone know they did wrong. Discipline the noun is what the Nats need. Discipline in baseball means fundamentals, both athletic and mental fundamentals.

So, discipline as a mental fundamental, sounds like a new chant. “Men-TAL fun-DA-men-TALS.” All joking aside, what this team really needs is a combo of the verb and the noun. It is clear that the noun form of discipline is not instinctive to everyone on this team and must be taught. I do not have a good take on the new coaching staff and solicit opinions from others. What I can say, however, is that discipline the noun is in short supply. Do we blame Manny? I don’t know, but I do firmly believe that the verb reinforces the noun. We can argue over the virtues of “strict father” versus “nurturing family” models, but one thing seems evident for our Nats, discipline has been lacking.



Jim said...


I absolutely agree with the need for the noun...but I think, as with all things this season...we're going to need to also display our own discipline. Let's let some time pass and see what develops. Let's not pass judgement on Manny and his coaches based on the first week.

I agree discipline is in short supply and needs to be increased. I just don't know that now is the time to assume it's going to remain a missing ingredient.


Brian said...

I'm anxious (hehe) to see how this team grows in the discipline area.

At the end of the season, discipline will be a key mark of Manny's success in 2007: Are the Nationals more disciplined on October 2nd than they were on April 2nd?

RallyTime Richard said...


Let's see indeed. My post was more to highlight a need than to assume a hopeless situation and point fingers.

I love baseball and don't mind losing, honestly, but beating yourself...that is harder to watch.