Matt Williams had American in his tournament pool


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The leader of the free world picked against George Washington in his NCAA tournament bracket, but the leader of the Washington Nationals backed D.C.’s other representative in the field. Not that Matt Williams had a choice.

“Ryan Zimmerman came up to me and asked me if I wanted to get into the pool,” the Nationals manager explained Wednesday during his first weekly appearance with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. “I didn’t choose a bracket per se, it was just a draw pool out of a hat. I chose American University and went out in the first round.”

The Junkies were quick to point out that this is a terrible way to run a pool, and even as someone who once drew eventual champion Florida in such a lottery in 2006, I completely agree.

Thankfully, Williams did have a say in the song that the Junkies will use to introduce him every week. Perhaps still bitter about his American pick, Williams went Canadian.

“There was a time back in the day, when I was playing, that they asked me to have a walk-up song. I told them, ‘I don’t need no stinkin’ walk-up song. Play the organ; I don’t care.’ But one of my teammates chose a walk-up song for me, so I probably have to go with that, and that’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush.”

Good pick, unnamed teammate. Was that you, Barry? Go ahead and press play before reading the rest of this post.

Williams was later asked what excites him the most about this year’s team.

“I think everybody looks at our starting pitching and says well, it’s really good. I’m also excited about the fact that the guys have taken to opening up the game within their game a little bit. We’ve been fairly aggressive on the basepaths, I like that. I think we have to pick our spots, of course, but that’s exciting to me. I’m excited about our offense and our quick strike capabilities. You look at it one-through-eight, everyone’s got a chance to leave the yard at any time, which is good.

And what worries him the most, with Eric Bickel offering Rafael Soriano as his primary source of concern?

“I’m not worried about Sori. We look at him and say, all you can look at are the amount of saves that he had last year. He’s a pro, he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a 98 [mph], strikeout guy all the time, but he mixes and matches and he understands how to get people out. So I’m not necessarily worried about that.

“I think that when we look at this, the thing that concerns me most – and it’s not really a concern – but the thing that concerns me the most is our ability to manufacture. We’re going to have to do that. On occasion, we’re going to have to win the 2-1 and the 3-2, but the ability to do that is going to have to be part of our arsenal. Playing a little bit of small ball, moving the guy over, I don’t know, laying down a drag bunt when we need to lay down a drag bunt to get a guy on or get a guy in scoring position, things like that. Because we are so powerful, I think our team’s powerful, so to flip the switch, and say we can do a little bit of small ball, too, is something we really want to accomplish.”

There’s some luck that goes into winning one-run games, so let’s hope Williams got rid of some bad mojo with that American pick.

You can listen to the entire segment, which includes Williams’s thoughts on the release of original Nat Jamey Carroll, here.

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.

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Dan Steinberg · March 26, 2014

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