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People are starting to call for Davey Johnson’s head

Aug 8, 2013, 12:54 PM EDT

Davey Johnson AP

The Nationals’ season has turned into roadkill, but until now most in the media and talk radio world have been content to marvel at how bad it is in general rather than call for heads to roll specifically. Mike Harris of the Washington Times is the first to break:

For starters, manager Davey Johnson should resign now instead of at the end of the season as planned. He’s 70 and after this season, he’s starting to look like he’s 170 and sound like he’s 270.

It’s usually overly-simplistic to blame a manager when things go bad. Players play and managers manage and front offices do things and out of those three factors, a good argument can be made that the manager makes the least amount of difference.

That said, despite how good a manager Johnson has been over his career, there is no escaping the fact that when it ends for him with a given team, it always ends poorly. I figure this will be the same way.

  1. elwaysagenius - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    It’s definitely the managers fault that the team can’t hit.

    • jfk69 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      See..That is the difference between Mattingly and Davey. Mattingly still can hit.

  2. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    His bobble head that is…. Oh wait the nats suck this year.

  3. aceshigh11 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Davey Johnson knows there’s ONE THING that can turn the Nats’ season around:

    Cocaine.

    LOTS of cocaine.

    • amadorjon - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      it does a body good

      • amadorjon - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        just ask the 86 mets!!!!

      • aceshigh11 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        The ’86 Mets were precisely who I was referring to.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      It’s the real thing!
      (Real former, but recent slogan for a drink that once legally had cocaine as a main ingredient.)

      • Old Gator - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM

        And still calls itselfCoke, hoping you’ll think of your Bessemer converter.

  4. amadorjon - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    good thing they shut their best pitcher down last year-but they had a plan for this years playoff run right?

    you never know what can happen from one year to the next in this nutty game-so always play all your cards when you got a shot, because you might not again

    • nolanwiffle - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      Explain to me one more time, if you can, how shutting down Strasburg last year had any impact on their season-ending series versus the Cards.

      And call me a crazy optimist, but I personally think the Nats will make the playoffs again during Strasburg’s career. So relax.

      • eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        Oh, I don’t know, maybe Strasburg doesn’t give up 5 runs in 3 innings in game 2, crazy optimist.

      • Old Gator - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Not crazy optimist. Stupid optimist. Is Strasburg pitching the ninth in the final game that the Gnats were leading when they blew it?

        Sure he was.

        I love the way the great fraternity of the brain stem keeps on dredging up this totally idiotic red herring.

      • nolanwiffle - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        So losing Game Two, which allowed the Cards to tie a five game series at one game apiece, is your justification for not shutting Strasburg down? And that cost the Nats that series and likely a World Series?

        Yours In Christ,

        Crazy Optimist

      • eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        I guess you can’t count to three. Win game two, there is no game 5 to blow.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        I guess you can’t count to three. Win game two, there is no game 5 to blow.

        Fallacy of the pre-determined outcome. Nothing says that winning game 2 would prevent the nats from losing game 3 and 4. You can’t just replace something in time and assume everything else would follow after it.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        I guarantee no particular outcomes. But there’s no way the Nats are a better team without Strasburg than with him. Great pitchers have thrown terrible playoffs games, too. But would you rather have had a start from Edwin Jackson or one from Strasburg? Because THAT — not “who starts Game Two?” or “Who pitches the ninth innings of Game Five?” is the question.

        They benched their best player and lost a five-game series. You’re better off with your best players than without them.

      • wannabebluesplayer - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        Nats showed last year against the Cards that they weren’t ready for where they were. The Cardinals had just been there a year before and many returned, plus new guys who had been there before. Could Strasburg have helped, sure, but does it mean the Nats win the series, probably not. Here’s the biggest reason the Nats had a chance. Adam Wainwright wasn’t himself and outside of Lohse, no one was pitching that well, especially Garcia.

  5. mississippimusicman - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Wait wait.

    “When it ends for him with a given team, it always ends poorly.”

    How is there a way for it to end not-poorly, other than retiring at the end of a great season? Don’t managers typically like keeping their jobs? I mean, sure, they might leave for a different managing gig for more money, but even this isn’t a good ending. It’s never a case of, “You did a great job for us, Davey! Your contract is up now, and we’ve got another one all drawn up to extend you, but if you want to leave for another team, then go with our blessing!” Either a manager gets fired (hard feelings), or jumps ship (hard feelings), or retires.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Teams are generally not even allowed to let a manager finish a contract without it being a perceived slight. If he is not extended (or fired) before reaching “lame duck” status, everyone thinks something is amiss.

  6. buffal0sportsfan - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    What’s Mike Ilitch’s excuse he’s 84 looks like he’s 184 (although the wig might discount or add years depending on your view). And sounds like he’s 384!! Whatevs

    • Caught Looking - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      That guy looks like he’s lived a hard life, or perhaps just ate a ton of bad pizza.

      • buffal0sportsfan - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        Well when your pizza is 5 bucks I’m not thinking it’s always quality food.

  7. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Wasn’t everyone screaming he should have been manager of the year last year? What did he suddenly forget how to be a manager? Oh wait. Logic. The natural enemy to sports writers.

  8. goodellisruiningtheleague - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    This team is pathetic send ‘em back to Montreal

    • jfk69 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Selig would never let that happen. Unless they play their home games in Mexico

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        It was like the joke when Jeffery Lurie bought the Eagles, and the rumors were that he was going to relocate them to L.A. Ed Rendell (who was Mayor at the time) said he did not know if they would move or not. He did know one thing for sure: The Los Angeles Eagles would be playing home games in Philly

  9. jfk69 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Davey should see if he can get Lenny Dykstra out on an early work release program. I am sure he can light fire under their asses. Providing he doesn’t burn the clubhouse down to collect on an insurance policy.

    • xmatt0926x - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      I won’t lie. I got a chuckle out of that one. (although I do think Lenny is actually already out of the big house).

      • jfk69 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        I will check Craigs List. His personal ad usually runs like this.
        Any woman wanted. Will pay immediately with personal check

  10. sdelmonte - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Davey’s never gotten much respect from the ink-stained wretches. I seem to recall he was badly abused in NYC too, and of course his firing did nothing for the Mets.

  11. roverboy1949 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    It’s Davey’s fault that the Nats don’t score when Strasburg pitches, or none of them can hit with men in scoring position, or they make stupid base running mistakes, or they can’t throw from third to first, or the Braves have been red hot. Everyone thought they would walk away with the title with the players on this roster. Surprise! That’s why you actually play the game, not just read the line-up. They screwed the pooch last year when they had a great opportunity to go all the way. They mishandled their staff and thought they had to shut down their Ace. When the target is in sight, pull the trigger. You never know when you will get another shot. That was a bigger mistake by Davey(and the rest of the front office) than anything he’s done this year. He should finish out the year like the rest of the team must do, and wave good-bye. He had a good career.

    • voteforno6 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      More of this idiotic nonsense. Young pitchers get shut down all the time, by a number of teams (including Matt Harvey, I think), with little to no fanfare. This is done for developmental reasons. For some reason, this was only controversial with Strasburg last year. If you had actually been watching any of the games last year, you would have been able to tell that Strasburg was visibly wearing down. He had never pitched more than 120 innings in a season, and he was coming off Tommy John surgery. While the team has made some questionable moves, this is one that they got absolutely right.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

        Bullbleep. Bullbleep, bullpleep, bullbleep.

        Strasburg was not wearing down at the end of last year. Here was his last full start against the oh — who was their playoff foe? — The St. Louis F’ing Cardinals.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201209020.shtml

        I was at that game, so don’t tell me he was wearing down. He was amazing. He only pitched six innings because there was a lengthy rain delay. And in those six innings, he had nine strikeouts, a walk, and two hits. He was fine. He was healthy. And if he had started in place of Edwin Jackson — who gave up four runs before recording an out in Game Three of the ALDS — the Nationals would probably have won a World Series.

        Stop. Stop making stuff up. It was the wrong decision at the time, and it looks as bad in retrospect as the worst critics suggested it might. And it’s the Nats fans, not their numerous critics, who ought to be maddest about it. You gave away a chance at a World Series.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        Correction — Edwin Jackson gave up four runs before recording an out in the second inning, and the Nats lost 8-0.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        In 29 August innings, he had 32 Ks and an ERA of 2.79.

        Yeah, wearing down. Keep telling yourself that.

      • nolanwiffle - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        I don’t know about wearing down either. But as a Nats fan I had no problem with the organization adhering to a long0-term plan they announced well in advance of the playoffs.

        Strasburg’s inning’s pitched by year:
        ’07 @ SD State: 37
        ’08 @ SD State: 97
        ’09 @ SD State: 109
        ’10 55 in minors + 68 in majors = 123
        ’11 20 in minors + 24 in majors (then has TJ surgery)
        ’12 159 in majors (before being shut down in Age 23 season)

        Where’s the folly in ensuring that you’ll have this guy around for what you hope will be years of pennant chases versus the chance of wrecking him for one shot?

  12. Detroit Michael - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Craig wrote: “That said, despite how good a manager Johnson has been over his career, there is no escaping the fact that when it ends for him with a given team, it always ends poorly. I figure this will be the same way.”

    Of Davey Johnson’s previous 4 managing stints, his highest winning percentage came in the last year (or partial year) of the stint 3 out of 4 times. I’m amazed that from a win-loss perspective, things frequently have ended so well. I would guess it is much more common for a manager who lasts > 1 season to have his team’s record decline from its peak during his last season at the helm.

    • madhatternalice - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      Right. (Apologies ahead of time for the formatting)

      Year Team Ws Ls % Position
      1984 Mets 90 72 .556 2
      1985 Mets 98 64 .605 2
      1986 Mets 108 54 .667 1
      1987 Mets 92 70 .568 2
      1988 Mets 100 60 .625 1
      1989 Mets 87 75 .537 2
      1990 Mets 20 22 .476 4
      1993 Reds 53 65 .449 5
      1994 Reds 66 48 .579 1
      1995 Reds 85 59 .590 1
      1996 Orioles 88 74 .543 2
      1997 Orioles 98 64 .605 1
      1999 Dodgers 77 85

    • madhatternalice - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Right. (Apologies ahead of time for the formatting)

      Year Team Ws Ls % Position
      1984 Mets 90 72 .556 2
      1985 Mets 98 64 .605 2
      1986 Mets 108 54 .667 1
      1987 Mets 92 70 .568 2
      1988 Mets 100 60 .625 1
      1989 Mets 87 75 .537 2
      1990 Mets 20 22 .476 4
      1993 Reds 53 65 .449 5
      1994 Reds 66 48 .579 1
      1995 Reds 85 59 .590 1
      1996 Orioles 88 74 .543 2
      1997 Orioles 98 64 .605 1
      1999 Dodgers 77 85 .475 3
      2000 Dodgers 86 76 .530 2
      2011 Nationals 40 43 .481 3
      2012 Nationals 98 64 .605 1

  13. eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    None of this can be true. In reality, the Nationals are in first place and running away with the division. This must be the case. I was assured by Nats fans that it wasn’t important to put their best team on the field last year because last year’s division title was merely the start of a long run of total dominance of the NL East, nay, all of MLB.

    • nolanwiffle - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Buck up, Eagles season starts soon. Then you’ll have something alse to be miserable about.

    • nolanwiffle - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Buck up, Eagles season starts soon. Then you’ll have something alse to be miserable about.

      • eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:40 PM

        LOL- What makes you think I’m a Philly sports fan? I hate the Phillies and the Eagles.

      • eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        I actually like the Nats. Not a fan, but I use to live in DC and I am glad they have a team. I just thought the way their fans acted like it was the most natural thing in the world to shut down your ace heading into the playoffs because “what the heck? we’re going to own this division for years.” No one knows what the future holds.

  14. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    They should bring in Ozzie or Valentine as the next manager to help the team stay focused.

  15. cubanxsenators - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    “when it ends for him with a given team, it always ends poorly.”

    Yeah, Miami Amigos, boy did that end poorly.

    What’s a truer-ism is that once he gone the wheels come off — like they ain’t nowhere to be found.

    Or maybe you just meant it always ends such that Davey’s not on the Old-Timer Day list for 8-10. But at this point that’s buying green bananas for Davey.

  16. number42is1 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    “People are starting to call for Davey Johnson’s head”

    I knew this girl once… i used to call for her head… but then again i think that we are talking about to different things here.
    /Thumbs down

    • heyblueyoustink - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      I see we’ve visited the bathroom stalls.

      • number42is1 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        8675309

  17. razorbyrd - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    the Nats had an AMAZING year last year, but the front office still tells him, “yeah we’ll honor the second year of the deal, but after that we’re all set…”

    kind of hard to feel motivated after that, and probably just as hard to motivate the team… let him finish the year

  18. davidc23452 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Johnson is definitely losing it. At the presser after last nights game he called Heyward “Heywood” twice.

  19. Advanced Strength Training Programs - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    People are still arguing about Strasburg. The Nats were not the first team to shut a pitcher down and won’t be the last. Get over it. This year is an absolute disappointment. No getting around the terrible hitting.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      (a) Those pitchers weren’t as good as Strasburg.

      (b) Those teams weren’t favored to win the World Series.

      (c) EVEN IF the best option is to shut him down, his 120 innings should have happened in October, not July.

      It was a bad move.

      • Old Gator - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        And it was completely irrelevant to what happened. Strasburg would not have been pitching that final catastrophic ninth under any circumstances. His absence had nothing whatsoever to do with the Gnats’ final game loss, a loss in which they were ahead before the roof caved in. And it didn’t cave in on any hypothetical space inhabited by the straw man of Strasburg.

        When it’s your multimillion dollar investment in the future, you can play as fast and loose with it as you want.

      • eatitfanboy - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        If he had won game two, there would have been no game 5 to be blown.

      • jrbdmb - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        Gator, you keeping spouting the same silly nonsense, and we have to keep correcting you. Please stop it.

        As said multiple times, Strasberg pitching in Game 2 gives them much better odds of winning, which means Game 5 never happens. Of course there are no guarantees, but for you to keep insisting that sitting their best pitcher had nothing to do with the Nats losing the series is insane.

  20. heyblueyoustink - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Off with his head eh?

    If we’re going to start beheading people ijn the Washington area, I suggest we start a list…

    • Old Gator - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul. But if you just plug their assholes instead, you’ll achieve the same result.

  21. jyoung1891 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Rizzo needs to step up and take the blame for the Nat’s failure this year. All he added over the winter were Spann and Soriano. Neither has impressed so far.

  22. misterj167 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    From Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post:

    “But another huge Nats problem, and the one that absolutely must be solved before anything really good can happen, is that they play the game badly at the fundamental level night after infuriating night. The Nats think, correctly, that they are talented. But bad baseball always beats talent. The Nats aren’t winning because the way they’ve played, they don’t merit it.

    And nobody calls them out, instance by instance, game by game. Certainly not Johnson, a “players’ manager” whose trust has been abused by his veterans, nor his coaches nor even Rizzo. Because the Nats usually played crisply last season, the franchise finds it unfathomable that they’ve regressed so far so fast. When will the “switch flip” or the “light go on” and the poise, presence of mind and pleasure reappear? Surely this is a bad dream.

    But, after 114 games, somebody should say, “This doesn’t cut it.”

    The Nats can’t sacrifice bunt or execute basic situational hitting. On Tuesday, they lost, 2-1, because Gio Gonzalez popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt, costing the Nats a run, while the Braves’ 23-year-old Julio Teheran, in the same inning, advanced two runners with a bunt, both of whom scored on a two-out single. Gonzalez, a vet, didn’t need to offer at a first-pitch fastball, up-and-in. But at some level, he simply wasn’t ready to perform. He flinched, stuck his bat up reflexively, made a one-pitch gift out then acted angry at his failure as he marched back to the dugout. Memo: Spend less time trying to hit batting-practice homers and bunt a heck of a lot more.”

    • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      I’m fascinated by the idea that a team only scoring one run can be blamed on the pitcher failing to bunt properly.

      • misterj167 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        That’s interesting, because the Braves pitcher did execute a bunt on Wednesday and it lead to the eventual winning run scoring. In close games these things make a huge difference. Anyone who’s been a fan of baseball for any number of years can tell you that.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        On the night of Wednesday, August 6th, the winning teams scored 4, 5, 2, 15, 9, 7, 3, 3, 5, 8, 3, 7, 3, 6, and 4 runs.

        Scoring two runs is not a recipe for success, unless your actually PLAYING the Washington Nationals.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        On the night of Wednesday, August 6th, the winning teams scored 4, 5, 2, 15, 9, 7, 3, 3, 5, 8, 3, 7, 3, 6, and 4 runs.

        Scoring two runs is not a recipe for success, unless you’re actually PLAYING the Washington Nationals.

  23. Todd Boss - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I’m on board; here’s a piece from 7/31/13 on the same topic.

    http://www.nationalsarmrace.com./?p=7323

  24. wheels579 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    The point being missed by those posting stats to prove things don’t usually end poorly for Davey Johnson is that things have ended poorly for Davey everywhere he has managed despite those good records. How can it end well when you’re out of a job time and time again after winning seasons?

    • jrbdmb - Aug 8, 2013 at 4:33 PM

      Doesn’t it “end poorly” for just about any manager leaving a job? Barring retirement or death, how often do managers leave their jobs on a high note?

  25. twilson962 - Aug 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Davey’s head should roll? I couldn’t disagree more. Remember who the Nats were. Not last year, but every previous year. There’s a reason they got Strasburg & Harper in consecutive drafts. THEY WERE TERRIBLE!!!!

    If, and only if Davey does retire please bring back Bo Porter. The Nats obviously miss him.

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