Earlier this season, Nationals Manager Matt Williams said during a MASN interview that he would break out his jocular Babe Ruth impression if the Nationals won 10 straight games. “If we do 10 in a row, I will break it out,” he said in early May. “It’s been a long time, but yeah, I would. Ten in a row, you got it.”
Well, after the Nationals’ 1-0 win over the Diamondbacks, their fifth walk-off victory in six games, Williams now has an old gag to resurrect. But Williams wouldn’t commit to doing it any time soon and with good reason.
“As in any situation with games or any of that, timing is important,” Williams said with a smile. “So I wouldn’t imagine that right now is the proper time. It’s probably not appropriate. But in some form or fashion, at some point, probably in the privacy of some stadium somewhere, we’ll bring it out again. I don’t know when that will be.”
Even though the Nationals are enjoying the best run in team history, Williams doesn’t want to make himself the story and detract from the team’s accomplishments. He has laughed about the promise in days leading up to the 10th win, even covering his ears when reminded of it. But he’s also concerned about being disrespectful towards other teams. If Williams were to do the impression tomorrow, it’d be all over television and sports shows in the heat of a pennant race. He’s the leader of a team now, not a player.
“It’s not appropriate,” Williams said. “You talk to folks and you say ‘Hey, boy, sure we’d like to win 10 in a row.’ But at some point it will be fun and appropriate but not right now.”
Williams admitted that, when he does it, a camera will be there. He even joked that perhaps it’ll be on Field 4 in Viera, Fla., during spring training 2015.
When he was a player, Williams was known for his intense demeanor but also had a lighter side. He would do impressions of teammates, managers, actors and famous old-time players. He performed his Babe Ruth impression, with a pillow stuffed under his jersey and batting left-handed, for television cameras before a 1991 game when he was with the Giants and the footage has followed him since.
“I haven’t done it since the last time I did it, but a promise is a promise,” he said. “At some point, somewhere … I can’t tell you when that will be, but at some point.”
Over the past few days, players have been quietly excited about Williams’ potential impression. Some didn’t want to jinx any streak but were looking forward to seeing it if they reached 10 wins. “I can’t wait to see Matt do that,” said starter Gio Gonzalez, who started Thursday’s game.
When Williams made the promise, did he think a 10-game winning streak was possible?
“Anything’s possible,” Williams said. “In this game, especially. Anything’s possible. You make the promise, you’ve got to live to it. So it will happen somewhere, somehow.”