It was weird looking in the other dugout this weekend and seeing Davey Johnson with that goofy script “W” on his cap. Overall, I was conflicted about seeing Johnson in the opposing dugout. It’s a shame that he was out of the majors so long, so I’m glad that he’s back where he belongs. At the same time, I felt a touch of dismay that he was not the manager of the Mets.
I was not Terry Collins’ biggest fan during the Mets’ managerial search. By default, I was a Wally Backman backer, not because I thought that Backman deserved the job, but because I thought Collins and Bob Melvin left a lot to be desired.
In fairness, I don’t see how any Mets fan is unhappy with the job that Collins has done. He kept the team afloat after a 5-13 start and has kept them on the fringes of the Wild Card chase despite injuries claiming six position players and two starters for varying lengths of the season. While many felt that this was no better than a .500 squad if everyone stayed healthy, Collins has guided the team to two games above .500 after roughly two-thirds of the season while basically running a M.A.S.H unit.
Collins has been better than anyone could have hoped for, yet I still wished that the Nationals manager was here instead. What does Collins have to do? But I think that speaks for the ultra high regard that I, along with many other Mets fans, hold Johnson and not anything against our current manager.
Johnson took over a team that had been floundering for years and immediately put his stamp on the organization and turned them into a 90-win club. Some might say that he was in the right place at the right time, but it was Johnson who pushed for Dwight Gooden, it was Johnson who recognized that Backman’s offense more than offset his defense and it was Johnson who broke in the rookies while handling the veterans.
In his six-plus years with the Mets, Johnson was 595-417 for a .588 winning percentage. They were lousy before he got here and they were lousy after he was let go. If the Wild Card had been in existence, the Mets would have went to the postseason five straight seasons.
And whenever Johnson got a job after his time with the Mets, he was successful. He made the Orioles relevant, he succeeded under Marge Schott while with the Reds and he finished 10 games over .500 with the Fox-era Dodgers.
So, it’s a little scary seeing Johnson in the dugout of a National League East rival that should have money to spend. Next year the Nationals should have a full season out of young flame throwers Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann and with Johnson involved in personnel matters, chances are they will make better use of their free agent dollars. There could soon be another power in the division.
Davey, it’s great to see you back in the majors where you belong. If Jack McKeon can manage at age 80, I see no reason you can’t be a success in your late 60s. This time I have to root against you, though. But I hope you realize that deep down I wish you were wearing blue and orange again.