Seventy-two games into their "World Series or Bust!" campaign in 2013, the Washington Nationals were a .500 team, 6.0 games out of first in the NL East and 6.5 games out in the race for the second Wild Card spot.
Having won the division in 2012, bringing postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933, the obvious next step, veteran manager Davey Johnson explained, after a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, was a championship season.
But things were not going as planned, and as ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote at the time, the Nats were confronting the harsh reality of major league baseball.
"Every year is different," Stark wrote. "Winning is hard work. And nothing is guaranteed. Not in baseball. Not in life."
Jayson Werth spoke to reporters at the time and explained why he thought having to fight for what they wanted might be a good thing:
"Last year, we cruised. You don't learn how to win that way. So when you get into those big games in September and in the playoffs, when you've led wire-to-wire and you cruised into the finish line, you never really had to work for anything. But [this year] I feel like, if we're going to win it, we're going to have to work for a lot."
The Nationals took the division by 4.0 games in 2012, taking over first-place in late May and holding it the rest of the way, fighting off a challenge by the Atlanta Braves to make it to the postseason for the first time since the franchise moved from Montreal to D.C. in 2005.
In 2013, they battled, following a rough 11-16 July, and made a run down the stretch, going 34-20 in August and September, but fell short, finishing 10.0 games out in the division and 4.0 games back in the Wild Card race.
In 2014, under new skipper Matt Williams, the Nationals were ten games over .500, tied for first in the NL East on July 20th before pulling away, going 43-23 the rest of the way to build what ended up being a 17.0 game lead.
The season ended abruptly, however, with a loss to the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS.
No one was saying "World Series or Bust!" this Spring. The goal, Williams explained, was the same one every team had.
"We're here with an opportunity to go out there and win our division first and foremost," Williams told reporters at the start of Spring Training.
"We have that opportunity. We have to do things right to do it, but let's enjoy the process of planning to do that and working to do that and then beyond that, we want to be the last team standing like everybody else does."
After their 15-6 win over the Rockies in Colorado, the Nationals are a .500 team after 118 games. They're 4.5 games back in the NL East and 8.5 games out in the Wild Card race.
The Nationals have six games left with the division-leading New York Mets, so nothing is decided in the NL East if they can keep winning after snapping a six-game losing streak in the series opener in Coors Field.
"Obviously we haven't been playing the way we want to play," Werth told MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko last night.
"I haven't been playing the way I want to play, but the whole season is in front of us. We've got a long way to go.
"We need to play with a little bit of sense of urgency, and play like we're accustomed to and I think we're going to be fine. But we believe in each other. We've got a great group of guys. It's just a matter of going out there and winning ballgames."
"We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole here," Werth continued.
"So we've got some work to do, but we believe in each other, like I said. That's all that matters. We think we can do it. We know we can do it, it's just a matter of going out there and getting it done."