Angelos can't get no satisfaction... DAVEY JOHNSON RESIGNATION

November 06, 1997|By John Eisenberg

Peter Angelos has chased off three managers in 49 months of owning the Orioles, which means he'll probably can Davey Johnson's replacement in March 1999.

Johnson's replacement's replacement is probably a 50-50 shot to survive the end of the millennium.

Don't laugh.

If there is a lesson to learn from Johnson's resignation, it's that Angelos will never be satisfied with a manager.

The Orioles will always be caught up in -- and dragged down by -- these controversies as long as Angelos owns the team.

Friends, you had better get used to the chaos of the past few weeks.

The baseball gods haven't built a skipper to satisfy Baltimore's Boss, the curator of the Bronx Zoo, Chesapeake division.

Johnson was the one who pulled the plug on their relationship yesterday, but only after Angelos treated him with the respect and support a losing rookie manager might expect.

The record will show that Johnson quit, but only after Angelos griped about his personality, his tactics, his handling of the clubhouse -- everything except his golf swing, or so it seems.

We're supposed to believe that the Roberto Alomar fine incident led to the breakup, but Angelos was displeased with Johnson long before July.

The Alomar incident was a mistake by Johnson, but it wouldn't have been a big deal if Johnson and Angelos had gotten along.

Yesterday's end game didn't have to happen, and it wouldn't have happened if Angelos had said what an owner always should say to a manager who wins 98 games: "Good job, buddy."

This change proves, beyond any doubt, that all Orioles managers should be issued a flak jacket when they take the job.

If Angelos didn't like Johnson, the winningest active manager in the major leagues, who is he going to like?

If he wanted to get rid of Johnson, who never failed to take the Orioles to the American League Championship Series after the franchise had gone a dozen years without making the playoffs, who is going to satisfy him?

He probably would have fired Earl Weaver after the Orioles' third-place finish in 1972.

Never mind those three AL pennants Earl won from 1969-71.

When defeat comes, as it often does in baseball, Angelos reacts with all the insight of a second-guessing talk-show caller.

It's always the manager's fault, blah, blah, blah.

Angelos was unhappy with Johnny Oates, unhappy with Phil Regan, unhappy with Johnson.

Oates was too defensive and still trying to prove himself, so Angelos could get away with that one.

Regan was over his head, so he got away with that one, too.

Not this one.

You don't get away with chasing off the reigning AL Manager of the Year on the day the award is announced.

You don't get away with running off a manager guaranteed to deliver a playoff contender -- Johnson has never finished lower than second on a yearlong job -- for a manager whose record won't shine nearly as brightly.

Rick Down? He's a good hitting coach, but, like Regan, he has never managed in the major leagues.

Ray Miller? He's a superb pitching coach who went 109-130 managing the Twins in the '80s. (Angelos probably would favor him because he was an owner-mandated hire last year, so Angelos thinks he "created" Miller, who has been a major-league pitching coach for 18 years.)

Sparky Anderson? Jeff Torborg? Rick Dempsey? Reality check, please.

With all due respect, any manager is going to be a comedown from one who has won 985 major-league games, been to the playoffs five times and won a World Series title, and sat at the pinnacle of the profession in 1997.

Yes, Johnson may have a prickly personality and a way of courting trouble -- he also left the Mets and Reds unceremoniously -- so it's not as if he's the second coming of gentlemanly Walter Alston.

But honestly, who cares if he isn't touchy-feely?

This isn't high school ball; this is the pros, where you're paid to win.

The Orioles could suffer for Angelos' failure to recognize that Johnson does his job as well as anyone in the game.

Randy Myers was one of Johnson's guys, so his chances of returning are that much smaller today.

Free agents make decisions based on money, but some might wonder about coming to a franchise in which 98 wins buys a

manager no support.

L This isn't going to help lure talent, let's put it that way.

And the front office? Well, you can be sure that neither Pat Gillick nor Kevin Malone thought a managerial change was necessary, so, well, who knows? (Malone's contract is up, by the way.)

Anyone who knows anything about baseball knew a managerial change wasn't necessary after a 98-win season.

Alas, there isn't a manager alive who can satisfy Angelos, or so it seems.

Johnson's replacement will be No. 4 in five years, and he's almost guaranteed to get in trouble right away because the Orioles probably won't go 45-19 and win 98 games again.

Actually, there is one manager who wouldn't get in trouble -- one manager guaranteed not to suffer the slings of Angelos' disapproval.

You know who it is, don't you?

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, er, bleachers, please allow me to explain my rationale in choosing to pinch hit for Mr. Baines in these circumstances"

That's right, maybe Angelos should hire himself.

Then maybe he'd figure out that managing a baseball team is a tough job, and that no one did it better than Davey Johnson.

Managers under Angelos

Johnny Oates

Season: 1994

Record: 63-49* Percentage: .563

Position: Second, 6] games behind

* - Strike on Aug. 12 caused suspension of rest of season

Phil Regan

Season: 1995

Record: 71-73* Percentage: .493

Position: Third, 15 games behind

* - Season started late because of strike

Davey Johnson

Seasons: 1996-1997

1996 record: 88-74 Percentage: .543

Position: Second*, 4 games behind

1997 record: 98-64 Percentage: .605

Position: First, 2 games ahead

* - Qualified as wild-card team

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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