Davey, deal with it or hit the road

March 22, 1995|By JOHN STEADMAN

Now it's Davey Johnson who has his role confused. He's the Cincinnati Reds' manager of record and is disenchanted with the plight of having to direct replacement players. There's an easy way out: Resign.

Johnson should not continue to take money under false pretenses. If he can't be loyal to the organization that hired him, then quit. Dave is unhappy in his job so rather than create a scene he should quietly clean out the desk in his private office and leave.

He can join another manager among the unemployed, Sparky Anderson, who said his philosophy wouldn't allow him to be a part of the major leagues as currently constituted. Sparky also ripped the Detroit Tigers, the team that employed him, and took a cheap shot at the front office in the process.

Anderson walked out, but not before accepting paychecks for close to $500,000, dating back to last Aug. 12, when the major-league players went on strike. They didn't draw any salary from that point on, but Anderson, as part of management, never missed a check.

If the Tigers have any integrity at all, including president John McHale Jr. and general manager Joe Klein, they'll tell Anderson to keep walking. He's not worth bringing back under any circumstances. His abilities have been suspect anyhow so the Tigers wouldn't be losing much. Maybe he's doing them a favor by his cut-and-run defection when the pressure was on.

To allow him to resume his position, once the strike is settled, would be rewarding disloyalty. Nothing like abandoning his baseball family when, under emergency conditions, it needed to attempt to create stability with a patchwork arrangement in a time of severe crisis. It was a grandstand act by Anderson that was an embarrassment to himself.

Johnson, venting his dismay, referred to what's going on as a "travesty." Marge Schott, as owner of the Reds, didn't cause the players to stop playing. But the man she hired to direct the team made the situation much worse by denigrating the available fill-in personnel.

Managers, like sportswriters, come and go. They are a dime a bushel. If Johnson can't cope with the problems that come with replacement baseball, then let him find another line of work.

What Johnson and Anderson fail to realize is they are included in the realm of management when they sign on as the field leader and, thus, are separated from the players association.

They are supposed to deal with the situation as it presents itself. In this case, it's difficult, working with players whose skills are marginal, but that's not the point. Through most types of work stoppages, with the labor force going out, the management segment of the business or industry tries to keep the wheels turning.

It has happened with railroads, steel mills, delivery companies, breweries, radio stations and newspapers. If you're involved with one side or the other, even if you disagree with the reasons for the stoppage, membership identity compels you to stand true to the cause you're identified with.

An appropriate analogy might be drawn from the military. You may not want to hit the invasion beach or withdraw, when the DTC order comes, but there's no going it alone. Anderson violated the employee-employer responsibility and therefore should be disqualified from returning as manager of the Detroit team.

Schott has told Johnson to shut up and manage. He's being paid for his leadership skills, and is exceptional in what he does, but has no right to undercut the product the major leagues are being forced to present. Everyone knows it's a far cry from normal standards, but these are extraordinary times for the game.

It's trying to hold itself together, much the way you'd do with a broken bat. The idea is to maintain continuity. From the aspect of looking at the linescores each day, the spring training exhibitions have at least been competitive, as in any other year.

Men and women involved in putting on the games from an executive perspective don't exactly enjoy doing what the players have made them do -- the creation of these replacement rosters. It's unconscionable for Anderson and now Johnson to go out of their way to deliberately damage the game that has been so rewarding for them.

Anderson has eliminated himself and Johnson ought to follow him out of the dugout.

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