Sports Outside the Beltway

Take this job …

The Baltimore Sun’s David Steele doesn’t think that the Orioles ought to hire Davey Johnson. In “Office needs to tell Johnson Thank you but no thank you” Steele writes

If you hear it once a day, you hear it a thousand times from the increasingly unfaithful: Everything was just fine while Davey was here, and everything has stunk since he left. Even if Johnson’s departure didn’t directly cause the Orioles to slowly sink to the bottom, it sent up the first real warning flare that something was terribly amiss in the House of Angelos – that the honeymoon was pretty much over.Burying that hatchet would go a long way toward healing the rift between Baltimore and the Orioles, or at least delay it from becoming a canyon.

It wouldn’t do that as well as winning would, though.

And if the prodigal manager does come marching through the gates, he’d better start winning, and winning fast – or else the clock will start ticking on his honeymoon, too.

Which means the Orioles had better be absolutely, positively, lead-pipe-lock sure that the manager really is the problem. Not just a problem. The problem.

This isn’t 100% correct. The Orioles were already in decline in 1996. At that time Gillick was much better in building a team for the present than for the future. During Johnson’s tenure as manager, the Orioles staved off decline. But the main point, that if the problem isn’t just the manager don’t change him, is valid.

Thomas Boswell made a similar argument in Orioles Have to Learn To Lay Off the Change-Up

Once again, when a relief pitcher torches five games in two weeks or two players scuffle in the dugout, it’s the manager’s fault. Welcome to dysfunctional business as usual by the Warehouse. The crazy kids run the family, not the parents. The chain of command is a pretzel. Winning and losing isn’t as important as who gets the blame. And, often, the best man takes the fall.Before the Orioles brass decides whether to dump the competent, honest Perlozzo alongside the managerial carcasses of Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove and Lee Mazzilli, it should look at the team’s long dismal history of similar decisions. Since ’85, a span in which Baltimore is 186 games under .500, the franchise has had 11 managers in 23 seasons. If Perlozzo doesn’t survive this season, he’ll be the eighth Orioles manager I’ve covered who got fired within months of finally furnishing his office. Johnny Oates was so fretful he didn’t truly unpack his memorabilia until his third season. Perlozzo, in his 12th year with the organization and third year as manager, has seen it all.

Well put. Though if you’re arguing about Perlozzo’s competence pointing out that he overused Baez when Baez was floundering sort of undermines the point.

It turns out that Davey Johnson wasn’t much interested in the job anyway. In a tirade worthy of Curt Schilling Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post

“I don’t even know that he’s on the hot seat,” Johnson said. “I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation. I guess there’s nothing to write about, so you guys start dreaming up stuff. I wish him the best. I’m not going to lend any credence to that.”That’s why people write, because they dream up stuff and want to put pressure on people. Leave me out of these sordid little games you play.”

Though Roch Kubato of the Sun takes a shot at Johnson’s response because

keep in mind that Jeff Zrebiec’s story in yesterday’s edition of The Sun stated that the Orioles had internal discussions about Johnson. It’s pretty hard for the guy to dispute that statement. How would he know what’s being said inside the warehouse?

Well that’s a very good reason for Johnson to shoot down the rumors. If unnamed sources are bandying about names as replacements for the current manager, the potential replacement ought to be emphatic that he’s not been contacted. Those unnamed sources were (intentionally or not) undermining Perlozzo.

After the 1994 season, it was rumored that Angelos wanted a big name manager for the team, perhaps even Tony LaRussa. Then it turned out that Angelos (or a representative) had actually contacted LaRussa. Angelos realized then that if it was public that he was seeking a replacement for the late Johnny Oates, it would be classless to leave him twisting in the wind, so he fired Oates at that point.

Johnson, who presumably was once friendly with Perlozzo – and maybe still is – was right to berate Kilgore. He was standing up for the manager.

Related thoughts at Beltway Sports Beat.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad .

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