Is Davey Johnson, or rather his attitude the reason for the Nationals’ struggles?
Today’s game is markedly different from any previous era’s. Today’s players do want a taskmaster coach or manager, and all we have to do is look at the 2011 Boston Red Sox and the downfall of Terry Francona, and the disaster that was his successor, Bobby Valentine.
Francona was beloved by his players because he was a player’s manager and socialized with his players as though they were his equals. Valentine, on the other hand, is a guy who is confrontational, loud and unafraid of any type of press and how it will effect his players. Essentially, Valentine is as opposite as Francona as a banana is different as a cantaloupe; sure, they’re both fruits, but that’s where the comparison ends.
Looking at how the players responded to Francona compared to Valentine shows what today’s player wants not only in baseball, but across the sports landscape.
Players want their egos stroked. There is a sense of entitlement among a lot of today’s players, which is truly sad, but needs to be addressed and is a huge part to successful managing.
Now, Davey Johnson is also a player’s manager. He does not have many rules and allows players to be themselves. The players respect him because he has to pedigree to back it up. Johnson is quietly confident, and allows players to do what makes them successful.
However, there is the adage that after a while, a team takes the manager’s personality. Johnson strikes me as a laid-back guy who wants to win, which is pretty obvious. He sticks with guys who struggle, and has faith in all his players, but here is the question:
Have the Nationals taken Johnson’s attitude, and is that the reason for their struggles?
Now, I am one of those who believe that when a team wins, the players get too much credit, and when they lose, the managers or coaches get too much blame. I do not believe that Johnson is the reason why Washington is struggling.
I believe the injuries to a lot of key players, combined with players like Haren and Danny Espinosa (though the latter is on the DL now) being given too much rope is the reason for their struggles. Washington is a patient, methodical organization, and not a reactive one.
However, if Washington does get healthy and this play continues, the managerial situation may need to be addressed.