Sunday, March 18, 2012
Can a DC playoff run put Davey Johnson in the Hall of Fame?
There's some real excitement about the youth in Washington.
Bryce Harper is super cocky and talking like he belongs in the same conversation with Albert Pujols (even though he is currently tied with ME in all MLB statistical categories.)
Stephen Strasburg could be heading a rotation with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.
Ryan Zimmerman is the veteran leader of the team and he's only 27.
If the Phillies age catches up with them, the Braves don't improve, the Marlins implode and the Mets continue being the Mets... the Nationals could become winners sooner rather than later.
And who can benefit the most with this wave of youth and hope?
69 year old Davey Johnson.
If he leads the Nationals to the playoffs, he might have a decent argument for the Hall of Fame.
As of this writing, he is 38th all time in wins for a manager. A .500 season would put him ahead of Billy Martin and just behind Whitey Herzog.
He took over the Mets in 1984 and led them to their first winning season since 1976. Yeah he benefited from the arrival of Dwight Gooden. But it was JOHNSON'S idea to bring him right up from A Ball before he turned 20.
He was the first National League manager to win 90 games in his first five seasons.
OK, he only won World Series title with all of that talent. But Johnson's mentor, Earl Weaver, only won one World Series with all of HIS talent! And he's in the Hall of Fame.
Whitey Herzog only has one World Series title.
Same with Leo Durocher.
He turned the Reds around and brought them to the 1995 NLCS. (The Reds were in first place when the strike ended the 1994 season.)
He was dumped by Marge Schott because he wasn't married and living with his girlfriend. (Interesting morality, Marge. Living unmarried? Bad. Hoarding Nazi memorabilia and defending Hitler? Not so bad.)
He went to Baltimore and led them to their only playoff appearances in Camden Yards.
He had three straight seasons in the League Championship Series.
He butted heads with Schott and Peter Angelos who let Johnson walk even after winning the 1997 manager of the year. (The Orioles haven't contended since.)
His two seasons in Los Angeles were not memorable, but he was stragely out of managing in the bigs for a decade.
And here he is now, being handed a potential franchise pitcher and player like he had with Gooden and Strawberry with the Mets.
And only 9 managers with 10 or more seasons have a better winning percentage than Johnson.
He already turned 3 franchises around from losers to playoff teams.
And he has a ring.
If he brings October baseball to the Nation's capitol for first time since 1933, then a Cooperstown berth should at least be discussed.
I suggested that Terry Francona should manage the team. But Davey Johnson is in town and has his eyes focused on the playoffs.
It could be his ticket to immortality.