WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve chief and avid baseball fan Ben Bernanke saluted the playoff-bound Washington Nationals on Friday as an example for gridlocked U.S. government leaders of how to succeed by making wise, patient decisions.
"People decry the absence of leadership in Washington these days. My response: Look no further than the home-team dugout at Nationals Park," the Fed chairman wrote in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal's online edition.
The Nationals just completed the best regular season in their eight-year history, winning the National League Eastern Division with the best record in Major League Baseball. The team begins the playoffs on Sunday in hopes of securing the first World Series berth for a Washington team since 1933.
Wrangling between congressional Republicans and Democratic President Barack Obama has stalled action to strike a deficit-reduction deal to avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff." Without an agreement, Bush-era tax cuts will expire and automatic spending cuts will kick in, which Bernanke and others warn could tip the country back into recession.
Bernanke can often be seen among the crowds at the Nationals' ballpark in sight of Capitol Hill and has rooted for the team through thick and thin since it moved to the city from Montreal in 2005.
He said the formula for the team's success rested heavily on the wisdom and experience of its manager, Davey Johnson.
"He combines the best of two seemingly at-odds managerial traditions," Bernanke wrote, noting how Johnson used the latest statistical advances as well as old-fashioned scouting.
"Davey is also really good at identifying and nurturing talent. Most strikingly, he has shown himself willing to sacrifice short-term tactical advantage for the long-term benefit of bolstering the confidence of a player in whom he sees great potential," Bernanke said, citing how Johnson gave underperforming players a chance to improve.
"Many of us in Washington could learn a thing or two from the Nationals' approach," Bernanke said.
(Writing by Alister Bull; Editing by Peter Cooney)