Despite being more than two-thirds of the way through a most disappoining season, the Washington Nationals still showed some fight Tuesday night. Yeah, it was two guys on the same team arguing with each other, but still...
Heading to the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night, TV cameras caught slugger Jayson Werth and left-hander Gio Gonzalez arguing in the home dugout at Nationals Park. The jawing actually had started on the field after the final out in the top of the first inning against the San Francisco Giants as the Nats trotted in collectively.
Things got so tense that coach Steve McCatty stepped in front of Gonzalez to prevent him from going after Werth. A few feet away, Nats manager Davey Johnson got in front of Werth and appeared to tell him to cool it. Colleagues, colleagues!
Neither player would say what the disagreement was about, though Gonzalez was late in covering first base on a grounder by Buster Posey, appearing to cost the Nats an out. It didn't cost them a run, and D.C. won the game 4-2 — Washington's fourth straight victory, improving its record to 58-60 — but the argument still was a topic of conversation afterward. Via the Associated Press, the parties said:
''It stays between me and Werth,'' Gonzalez said.
Werth refused comment after the game.
''Just a little camaraderie going on,'' Johnson said. ''Jayson sometimes can get a little vocal. He thought Gio was a little late covering first.''
It's a good news/not-so-good news situation for the Nats, who are 14 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East and 8 1/2 back in the wild card race. While it would take a sizzling finish by Washington and at least one collapse by the Cardinals or Reds in order to make the playoffs, it's not an insurmountable deficit. Those reasons are enough for Werth to chirp at Gonzalez over a mental mistake. In order rescue their season, the Nats are going to have to play close-to-perfect baseball over their final 44 games. And there's always pride and professionalism, no matter what the standings sheet says.
So it's good that a team leader is, well, leading. Perhaps he could have gone about it differently — Gonzalez surely didn't like being called out in front of everyone by another imperfect human being — but that probably was part of Werth's tactics, too. There's a better chance of Gonzalez covering the bag next time. Getting yelled at by a teammate, in front of the entire world, can't be fun and shouldn't be repeated if possible.
Over the course of any team's 162-game season, these kinds of moments happen more than we realize. It's good for fans to see one every once in a while. A heart still beats inside of the Nats, even if the rest of their bodies had a down season.