Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Davey Johnson in Best Position Since ’84 Mets

Davey Johnson in Best Position Since ’84 Mets

By Mike Silva ~ June 25th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, Outside the Apple.

It’s been 27 years since Davey Johnson first managed a big league ballclub. He told Frank Cashen that prior offseason that it was “a smart decision” to hire him. It’s probably equally as smart, perhaps fortuitous due to the resignation of Jim Riggleman, for Mike Rizzo to make the same decision in 2011.

Johnson has managed, and been fired, four times in his career. He is brash, outspoken, and stubborn. He is a forward thinker that isn’t afraid to try something new, or take a chance on someone. He isn’t afraid to take on the star of the team. I guarantee you Bryce Harper won’t be blowing kisses in Davey Johnson‘s dugout. None of his prior stops - Cincinnati, Baltimore, or Los Angeles- had the type of ownership that could sustain a relationship with Johnson. In a lot of ways he is like Bobby Valentine; almost too smart for his own good. The game wants “yes men,” and Johnson is anything but that.

This time he’s taking over a team like his 1984 Mets. They are young, talented, and on the rise. They have two of the best prospects in baseball, some interesting veterans that may need a push, and an 85 year old owner that yearns to win. It makes you wonder if the Nationals are crazy enough to throw a ton of money at Albert Pujols, or worse yet, Jose Reyes this offseason to get them over the top in the next couple of years.

The argument can be made that hiring managers in their late sixties is a risk. There is the generation gap, time off from the job, (been 11 years since he last managed a big league club), and the grind of a baseball season that can wear on a young man; much less someone who had life threatening health issues like Johnson. When I saw him at Citi Field for the Hall of Fame inductions last July, he had as much energy as ever. It’s not like he’s been sitting home in a rocking chair. Over the last few years he’s consulted for the Nats, managed college kids down in Florida, coached in the Olympics, and was part of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Every team that Johnson has taken over has won. Before last year, the Reds last playoff appearance was in 1995. Their manager? Davey Johnson. The Orioles haven’t been relevant since, you guessed it, Davey Johnson led them to the postseason in 1997. They actually almost brought him back in recent years, so even the petulant Peter Angelos knows a good thing when he sees it. The Dodgers didn’t make the playoffs, but they were in the Wild Card race in 2000. Corporate ownership and Johnson doesn’t mix, so it probably was wise for both to part ways.

Reports indicate that he will get the rest of this year and all of next to lead the Nationals. They will employ a bench coach (Wally Backman?) that will transition into the position in 2012. The ’84 Mets were contenders right away. The next season they fell short to St. Louis. By 1986 they were champions. If that blueprint is in vogue again, perhaps the long suffering fans of DC will get their due in 2013. Don’t be surprised of its Johnson at the helm when it happens.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
Mike Silva
View all posts by Mike Silva
Mikes website

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook

Leave a Reply