Before the start of the NL Wild Card Game, Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez, who was the bench coach in Chicago when the Cubs ended their 108-year championship drought, was asked if he’d been able to offer any advice to his team about how they could deal with the ghosts and history of postseasons past as they tried to bring the World Series back to D.C. for the first time since 1933.
“Yeah, you know, for me, these are big moments,” Martinez said. “But we play it all year. We left Spring Training, we started off slow, we picked it up, we’re in a position now to do really good things. The biggest thing for me and what I tell them all the time is the adrenaline. Your adrenaline is going to be going 100 miles an hour, there’s no doubt. I feel it. But the biggest thing is really I tell them, hey, control your heartbeat. You guys have come a long way and played really well. Just play one more game. Just go 1-0 today, and that’s all we can focus on.
“You guys together are much better than any individual player, so stick together, play hard, and play to win, and that’s what they’ve been doing for the last four, five months, so let’s continue to do that today.”
#Nats’ 3B Anthony Rendon on watching Stephen Strasburg and playing behind him when he’s rolling like he is now: “It’s amazing watching him, it can get kind of boring when he’s striking everybody out.”: pic.twitter.com/RS6LprefLm— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) October 15, 2019
A Wild Card win, a victory in Game 5 of the NLDS, and a 2-0 start to the NLCS later, Martinez was asked on Monday afternoon, before Game 3 with the St. Louis Cardinals, if he had any advice about controlling your heartbeat for a player like Anthony Rendon, who, a reporter noted, “plays like he has no pulse.”
“Yeah, he has no heart,” Martinez joked. “I shouldn’t say that. He’s got a big heart. We just talked about this. I just watched that guy go up there in big moments and yawn during an at-bat. I mean, what does that say about him? He’s just one of those guys that you see no emotion regardless of if he hits a grand slam to win the game or he makes a great play or anything. He just plays.
“You could talk to him, and he’ll tell you, ‘All right, whatever,’ he gives you that, but I know he enjoys playing. And believe me, when he doesn’t do good, he gets really frustrated, he does. But I just love watching him play every day. He brings it every day. Even though, like I said, it looks like he has no pulse, but he does, and I know his teammates appreciate him very much.”
Through eight games and 35 plate appearances this month, in his third trip to the playoffs, Rendon was 9 for 26 (.346/.457/.577) with three doubles, a home run, seven walks, and six strikeouts, with the homer a rally-starting solo shot in Game 5 in LA that started the game-tying rally that sent the decisive contest into extra innings before the Nationals beat the Dodgers to move on.
Rendon went 2 for 3 with a walk, two runs scored, and an RBI in last night’s 8-1 win over the Cardinals, which gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead, leaving them one win away from a trip to the World Series, and a guarantee of championship series games in D.C. for the first time in 86 years.
Rendon was asked after the game about the smile that was on his face after he made a fairly fantastic diving play at third base, and if the team having fun has been a big part of getting to this point where you’re now one win away from going to the World Series?
“At the end, it’s just a game,” Rendon said. “There are bigger things going on in this world than the 90 feet bases and the 330 foot fences. So I mean, if you don’t have fun out here in this game or in anything that you do, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. So in the end, just have fun.”
Is he having enough fun with this team now, and with all the winning they’re doing that it makes it hard for him to consider signing elsewhere in free agency this winter?
[ed. note - “Don’t blame us for this bummer of a question. We didn’t ask it.”]
“I’m not even thinking down the road,” Rendon responded.
“I don’t even know what I did yesterday, and I’m not even thinking about what I will do tomorrow. I live here, in the moment. One day at a time.”