On the same day that the Philadelphia Phillies announced that Ryne Sandberg would be returning on a full-time basis next year, the Washington Nationals bid goodbye to Davey Johnson in an appropriate, fitting and really beautiful tribute. In short, what the Nationals did for Johnson was everything that the Phillies should have done for Charlie Manuel.
Manuel was very unceremoniously let go earlier in the season due to a number of reasons, not the least of which was Sandberg already waiting in the wings. The decision was callous, poorly executed and in no way a show of good faith for the man who was, quite frankly, the best manager in team history.
Unlike Johnson, who spent the year on a farewell tour, Manuel didn’t even get to say goodbye. He was fired on the spot and all fans were left with was a haunting photo of Manuel walking down the long, dark hallway, with what appeared to be his lunch in his hands. It was not the way his tenure should have ended and I doubt many will disagree with that.
And while that was bad enough, what the Nationals did for Johnson just reminds fans what the Phillies didn’t do for Manuel. Frankly, it should put this organization, specifically Ruben Amaro, Bill Giles and David Montgomery to shame.
Johnson, who managed the Nationals for just three seasons, came to the team when it was in turmoil, much like Manuel. And just like Manuel, he brought them back into relevancy with the playoff appearance in 2012. Unlike Manuel, he didn’t win five straight NL East titles or a World Series. In fact his Nationals didn’t even win a playoff series.
But despite that, the Nationals paid tribute to Johnson with a 15-minute video presentation that included highlights from his managerial and playing career as well as messages of well wishes from former and current players. After the tribute concluded, the entire Nationals roster lined up to give Johnson hugs and handshakes as they too wished him well. They also presented him with an engraved crystal. Oh and it was all done in front of thousands of cheering fans.
It was everything that Manuel deserved but nothing that he got. He deserved to have a tribute, especially since a few days before he was fired, he had won his 1,000th game. He deserved a chance to have one last meaningful interaction with the players he coached and taught. He deserved to stand in front of the fans and wave his cap one last time as a packed stadium cheered. He deserved a proper goodbye and he just didn’t get it.
What Manuel did for the Phillies will never be forgotten but sadly his legacy with this team is always going to be remembered for more than just the playoff success. It is also going to be remembered for the sad and unjust way it came to an end.
Some have called Phillies fans classless, but this time it was the organization that really dropped the ball and just got it wrong. And it only adds to the embarrassment and shame that the rival Nationals 100 percent got this one right.
Marilee Gallagher is a writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.