Nationals manager Johnson down to final series
One more weekend and Davey Johnson says goodbye to baseball.
The big ceremony commemorating the career of the 70-year-old Washington Nationals manager already has been held in the nation's capital. All that's left is finishing out a disappointing season.
As Johnson heads into the three-game finale in Arizona, he still has to deal with the myriad details of his job. Then on Sunday, should he so choose, he can take the lineup to home plate for the final time, then manage his final game.
''I enjoy every day for what it brings me,'' he said in the dugout before Friday night's series opener. ''I've been fortunate to wear this uniform a long time and it's time to hang it up and go home and see my grandkids, take on another challenge. Who knows?''
Johnson leaves an impressive legacy in 17 years as a manager and 13 as a player.
Johnson and Billy Martin are the only managers to lead four different teams to the postseason. Johnson did it with the Mets, Reds, Orioles and, last season, the Nationals, earning him the manager of the year award at age 69. His 1986 Mets won the World Series.
''He's a Hall of Fame manager in my book,'' Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. ''He's been greatly successful in everything he does. The way he conducted himself here and handled the players and the way (the season) began, it's a trying situation, is a testament to his greatness as a communicator.''
The Nationals were favorites to win their division when the season began, but got off to a horrible start. They finally got it going but their playoff hopes officially came to an end with a loss to St. Louis on Monday night.
The attention his retirement received back home has amplified the moment.
''It's just the finality of it all kind of sunk in,'' Johnson said, ''It sunk in when I saw a video of me playing in Japan and they ran it all the way through to the here and now.''
Entering the weekend, Johnson's record as a manager is 1,370 victories and 1,070 losses.
Five years from now, the Hall of Fame talk will begin. Johnson had some impressive stats as a player, too, and he has one World Series ring as a manager and another as a player.
Johnson believes he will be leaving behind a team ready for success. Rizzo wouldn't' talk about the manager situation, a major question mark for the club heading into the offseason.
''Whoever's sitting here next year is going to have a good, strong ballclub,'' Johnson said. ''Anytime you leave a job you want to leave it in better shape than when you got there, and I think it's that way.''
Will he miss it?
''I didn't mind the press and I loved the games and the competition,'' Johnson said. ''The only thing I won't miss is the grind of the schedule and travel. That I will not miss. I will be lying on some beach somewhere while this club is flying somewhere. I'll be following it on my iPhone.''
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