Before Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson was named the BBWAA's 2012 NL Manager of the Year earlier this winter, he was named the Sporting News' Manager of the Year and he told reporters that though it would be nice to win the BBWAA's version, individual awards weren't as important to him as the team's overall success. "It's always been, 'What's the team doing as a group?' Being in the playoffs, that's step one," Johnson said, "Winning the division is step two and winning the World Series is step three. As far as individual awards? That's nice. I guess it's fun to be considered by your peers as [having] a decent year, but it's not a big deal to me." Johnson's Nats finished the year 98-64. They won the NL East, but they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in a five-game NLDS, falling short of the skipper's stated goal of winning a pennant in his first full-year on the bench in the nation's capital.
Johnson's 138-107 in a year and a half on the Nationals' bench, lifting his career record to 1286-995 over 16 seasons as a major league manager. Johnson's success as a skipper follows a 13-year career as a major league infielder. As he noted when he accepted the BBWAA's NL MOY, he's spent half a century in the game. "I've been in it for 51 years this year," Johnson said, "and what's really amazing about this is... As a player, I was traded twice. I was sold once. Released twice. And I couldn't stick anywhere very long. I guess they got tired of me. And then when I went into a managing career, one league folded, the first one I managed and then I got fired four times."
"And so this is my last year, Mr. Rizzo," Johnson said, talking to the Nats' GM Mike Rizzo, who was in the audience to see the manager accept his award. "I promise you. I'm not going to give you a chance to fire me," Johnson joked. The manager claims this is his final season on the bench. With plans to retire from managing after this year, Johnson's said he's setting his sights even higher this year. "World Series or Bust" is the motto this time around. Before Johnson and the Nats start their defense of the NL East title, there's one more honor out there he has a chance to collect.
The MLB Network is announcing their Top 10 Managers Right Now tonight at 9:00 pm EST. Davey Johnson's in the Top 10. How high will the 70-year-old skipper be on the list? You'll have to tune in tonight to see...
MLB Network host Brian Kenny will be counting down the top managers. Our friend Chris Jaffe (from the Hardball Times) and Ian Desmond's no.1 fan Larry Bowa will be presenting their own Top 10 Managers Right Now lists. Will Davey Johnson top the list?