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Beating the Odds

How Leaders Set a Tone

Davey Johnson is at it again.

Johnson, who told the 1986 New York Mets to go out and dominate the National League, is trying to put a manager’s imprint on this year’s Washington Nationals.

He told Florida Today columnist John Torres he’s so impressed with his team that it has a chance to be better than those Mets.

“Potentially,” he stopped to emphasize the word earlier this week at Space Coast Stadium in Florida. “This club has more potential. It actually has more athletes, it has a lot of gifted athletes.”

With those words, Johnson was using the media to send a message to his team.  He’s trying to set a tone. Every good leader does that. Someone once said, “It is your attitude at the beginning of a task that determines success or failure.”

Johnson’s attitude is that it’s time for his team to assert itself, and spring training is as much about mental preparation as anything else.

“Everything in my baseball sense tells me that these guys are going to go out and play more relaxed this year and relaxed and smarter baseball and express their ability,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be fun. I’ve been excited thinking about. It was really a long winter for me because I wanted to get with it.”

Johnson isn’t the only manager setting a tone. In Port St. Lucie, Mets’ manager Terry Collins wants his team to know that his expectations are higher than those of the media.

“We’re better than people think we are,” Collins said. “And I don’t want these guys to think for one second that there’s no expectations. There are expectations.”

The Mets lost shortstop Jose Reyes to free agency and are playing in a tough National League East.

“It’s human nature to say, ‘Wow! We’ve got a challenge on our hands,’ ” Collins said. “The thing I want to get these guys to understand is it’s not going to be acceptable to say, ‘Well, we’re not supposed to be very good.’ I will not stand for that.”

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