We even heard it when his team was up 3-0 in the National League Championship Series before clinching the National League pennant with a 7-4 victory on Tuesday over the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game sweep.
“My message after the game was still, hey, 1-0 every day.” Martinez said after Game 3.
He’s not kidding. In fact, it has been his message from the day he was hired in November 2017.
That was also the day he declared that nothing less than the World Series will do.
“My message from here on out is to play the last game of the World Series and win,” he said. “That’s all we are going to concentrate on, that’s all we are going to worry about. How are we going to do that? By winning one more game each day.”
Winning one more game each day — a simple message that Martinez never wavered from since he took the job.
There were more than a few eyebrows raised that Nov. 2, 2017 day when Martinez sat in front of reporters at a press conference in the Nationals clubhouse and told everyone that his goal was to lead this team to a World Series championship.
He said the goal is “to get to the next level and win a world championship in Washington.”
And in case you didn’t hear him, he repeated himself.
“The object is to win as many games possible,” Martinez said. “We’re not just here to win a playoff game. We’re here to win a World Series.”
Were you paying attention? Just in case you weren’t — again.
“After talking to the Lerner family and Mike (Rizzo, Nationals president and general manager) I think we have something in common and that is the desire and passion to bring a world championship to Washington,” he said. “We’re going to get it done.”
He might as well have been saying he was going to balance the federal budget.
It had been tried by others — some who seemingly were better qualified than Martinez to accomplish this goal.
Davey Johnson had one World Series title on his resume when he declared in 2012 it was World Series or bust. He failed. Matt Williams said he was “ready to go.” He left two years later without a World Series. Dusty Baker said he was “excited” about coming here and spoke of the formula of the team’s mixture of youth and experience. He was unable to use that mixture to reach the World Series.
And then Martinez — with zero managing experience — went beyond all his predecessors’ boasts and excitement and formulas for success and put himself out there with his testimony that nothing less than a World Series title would do.
And now, here he is, farther than anyone who came before him, on the brink of talking his goals into existence.
What may have fueled Martinez’s boldness was that the owner, Ted Lerner, sat just a few feet away from Martinez at the press conference, and he was telling the Lerners what they wanted to hear. After four NL division titles followed by four early postseason exits, falling short of expectations, the family had made it clear they wanted more.
“Together, we’ve brought competitive, winning baseball back to Washington with a passionate fan base that every team in the Major Leagues would be proud to call its own. More than anything, we want to share with you the elation of the final out going in our favor, when we can finally bring a championship home to Washington. That ‘One Pursuit’ is the core driving force behind everything we do, from the first day of spring training to the last out of the final game.
“Even though this ultimately wasn’t our season, we remain devoted to that cause. In further pursuit of that goal, we have decided to make a change in leadership and begin the process of finding a new manager.”
If you wanted to manage their team, you knew what the Lerners were now not just expecting, but demanding.
But Martinez’s words and his style have not changed since the day he took the job. His words and his style have not changed even when his team was 19-31 this season and on the brink of the worst failure yet.
He may have truly believed that they were going to “win one more game each day” that day at the press conference. When he said, “We’re going to get it done,” Martinez may have been speaking from his heart.
No one is raising their eyebrows anymore.
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
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