WASHINGTON — The Junkies’ weekly interview with Nationals manager Matt Williams took on a surprisingly human quality on Wednesday.
Far less time was spent talking about the results on the field as was the game itself, and it what it represents.
Williams was asked about his passion for the game, and if that makes people questioning whether he will return as manager in 2016 any easier.
“Well, I care. Of course. Everybody cares. But you’re right. I do this because I love this game,” he said. “It’s given me everything that I have in my life, you guys. Everything.
“So when I was six, I told my mom I want to be a professional baseball player. I achieved that goal through a lot of hard work, and I love this game like nothing else, professionally. It’s never easy for any player, any coach to be away from their family or any of that stuff that everybody talks about, but they do it for the love of this game. It’s such a unique game that you can’t find it anywhere else in the world.
“And the fact that I said it’s given me everything I have in my life professionally. I want to continue to do it, everybody does. And the reason for that is I love it. I just, I love the intricacies of the game. I played it a long time. I love coaching. I love helping guys make improvements in their game and seeing their success. So that’s what I like to do.”
Host Jason Bishop took a moment to express his own appreciation for the game, and how the challenge of being successful at it makes appreciating a season like Bryce Harper’s that much easier.
“People have no idea how hard that is to do,” he said.
“It is,” Williams agreed. “You have no idea what he’s gonna throw, everybody else in the field has a glove on and they’re trying to catch it, and you stand at the plate and it looks like there’s zero room out there for a ball to land.
“And the focus in that is you can’t control it after you hit it anyway, so you might as well just hit it hard and take your chances. Years like this with Bryce, he’s stayed focus in that regard and has a fantastic season.”
Talking about his early years in the game, Williams declined to name the first team who drafted him (the Mets), and picked up the conversation from when he joined the Giants, who drafted him out of UNLV.
“I got drafted in the 27th round by a team that I won’t mention in high school, and then ended up signing with the Giants out of college,” he said.
Burke & Herbert “Fan Question of the Week”
Q: A major pop star took batting practice at Nats Park this week. Can Matt Williams name him?
A: “Oh, boy. I certainly can. You realize I’ve got a 12-year-old at home?” Williams said. “So I took a picture with Ed Sheeran and sent it to my daughter and she was upset that she wasn’t around to meet him as well. He’s a big time pop star.”