...heck, if he owned Stones, Mick would go DAVEY JOHNSON RESIGNATION

November 06, 1997|By Ken Rosenthal

The first bit of disinformation was in the very first sentence of Peter Angelos' letter accepting Davey Johnson's resignation.

"In my considered judgment, it would clearly be in the best interests of the Orioles' organization for a change of field manager for 1998," the owner said.


It wasn't in the New York Mets' best interests when Johnson left.

It wasn't in the Cincinnati Reds' best interests.

And rest assured, it won't be in the Orioles' best interests, no matter which voodoo doll Angelos hires to replace Johnson.

Angelos has finally done it, embarrassing himself and his once-proud organization, antagonizing the fans he claims to care so deeply about, losing the American League Manager of Year.

If Angelos owned Disney World, he'd fire Mickey Mouse.

If Angelos owned the Rolling Stones, he'd fire Mick Jagger.

If Angelos had owned the Sistine Chapel way back when, he would have fired Michelangelo.

Oops, sorry. Angelos didn't fire anyone this time. Johnson quit, don't you know? Johnson wanted out, just like last year's disloyal soldier, Jon Miller.

Just remember, it's all Johnson's fault. It's always someone's fault in the owner's esteemed opinion, but never, ever, is it the fault of the man in the mirror, Peter G. Angelos.

True, Johnson botched the Roberto Alomar fine. True, he provoked Angelos by speculating that his job was in jeopardy. True, he said, "I'm not a quitter" one week before quitting.

But what was it Angelos wrote to Johnson?

"Your own actions and conduct -- not mine -- have produced the fulfillment of your prophecy."

More spin control.

Angelos asked for this, asked for it in a dozen different ways.

He should have been careful what he wished for.

The only way he escapes this nightmare is if the Florida Marlins are sold and Jim Leyland becomes available.

Orioles farm director Syd Thrift gave Leyland his first major-league managing job with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986.

There's no reason to believe that Leyland would want to become the Orioles' fourth manager in five years, but never mind.

At least now the impasse is broken. Johnson's coaches can make decisions. Club officials can sign free agents. The Orioles can operate, uh, normally.

It didn't have to be this way.

It never does until Angelos swings his wrecking ball.

Johnson indicated he was ready to apologize for the Alomar fine in his letter of resignation, conceding an "appearance of impropriety" with his attempt to direct the money to his wife's charity.

But Angelos never gave him the chance, did he?

Nope, and yesterday produced the signature moment of his ownership. Most teams celebrate award-winning managers. The Orioles bid theirs goodbye.

For once, Angelos was beaten at his own game, shown up by his manager the way a pitcher gets shown up by a hitter who admires a long home run.

Oh, Johnson hit a mammoth blast, resigning just hours before the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him AL Manager of the Year.

The timing was pure coincidence.

"I really wasn't thinking about the vote," Johnson said.

And Bill Parcells wasn't thinking about the New York Jets. And Rick Pitino wasn't thinking about the Boston Celtics.

Johnson earned his rightful place on this list of schemers and dreamers, with an assist from the BBWAA.

Yo, Davey: You owe us, pal.

Last year, the award was shared by Johnny Oates -- fired by Angelos, October 1994 -- and Joe Torre, who has lasted longer under George Steinbrenner than any Angelos manager.

Johnson went on a national conference call with reporters at 6: 30 p.m., and it produced one of the more unusual interludes in baseball history.

Hey, it isn't every day the AL Manager of the Year finds himself lobbying for a job with an expansion team.

What about those Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Davey?

"If they had any interest, I hope maybe they'd listen to this and call in," Johnson said, chuckling.

The first reporter to ask a question congratulated Johnson and said, "It's been a strange day for you, I guess."

"To say the least," Johnson replied.

The questions followed rapid-fire:

"What prompted you to resign, Davey?"

"Are you hopeful of landing another job?"

"Any regrets?"

Regrets for what?

The Orioles' first division title since 1983?

Two straight ALCS appearances?

Failing to win all 162?

Oh, it was absurd all right, hearing Johnson gush over his first BBWAA award -- "nothing can ruin this day" -- then rave about the Toronto Blue Jays he hopes to manage next season.

So now, Angelos gets what he deserves.

The Mets won 90 games in each of Johnson's first five seasons, but have gone through five managers in seven years since firing him in 1990.

The Reds won a division title under Johnson in '95, but it took them less than two seasons to fire his successor, Ray Knight.

Neither the Mets nor the Reds has won 90 games over a full season since dismissing Johnson.

And you can bank on it -- the Orioles won't win 98 again next year.

Their decline begins today.

Davey Johnson is gone.


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