WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Nationals have dropped five straight coming out of the All-Star break to fall eight back from the NL East-leading Braves with 62 games left to play in the regular season, and there’s nothing Davey Johnson can do to stop the bleeding.
Incessant losing and dashed expectations, predicated off of Davey’s “World Series or Bust” proclamation to start the season, have yielded undue pressure on a still young ballclub struggling to find its identity in the midst of a playoff race.
In his weekly appearance with the Junkies Wednesday, Davey was asked if the way this season has gone has caused him to reconsider his decision to not return next season.
“No, it makes me think I probably waited one year too long,” Davey joked.
He was then asked to reassure Nats fans he’s not giving up on his club by quitting, as former manager Jim Riggleman had in 2011. He responded with his typical charm and an answer that epitomizes how far short Washington has fallen of expectations.
“No,” Davey said. “I mean, I may slit my wrists, but I’m not quitting.”
Davey called the firing of hitting coach Rick Eckstein, who he had vouched for all season, “arguably the toughest day” he’s had in baseball. He maintained that front in his interview Wednesday, confirming his hostility towards Mike Rizzo in making the move.
“They came to me first,” Davey acknowledged.
“I think the Lerners are one of the best owners in baseball, and I think Mike Rizzo is, if not the best, right up there at the top of the GMs,” Davey continued. “I think he’s got great judgment. I didn’t agree with him on this call. There can be other things that I don’t agree with but you know, he’s the boss. That’s the bottom line.”
He also confirmed he had an argument with Rizzo over Eckstein’s early dismissal, again, who Davey had defended one month prior by stating “if you fire him, you might as well fire me.”
“Yea, I mean, I fight with him just like I fight with you,” Davey said. “I think it’s a mutual respect. They hired me to voice my opinion. I’m the manager/consultant.”
And on the firing specifically, he was unsurprisingly dejected.
“It’s just tough,” Davey said. “Let’s face it. Sometimes if they can light a fire, sometimes change shakes things up. It kind of lets everyone know ‘Hey, look in the mirror pal. You may be next to fall.'”
How Davey is able to remain so optimistic in the face of agonizing defeat is admirable, and perhaps the resolve the Nats will need if they’re to upset critics and turn their season around, and return to preseason expectations.
The full interview, which was very open and honest, per usual for Davey Johnson, can be heard in the clips below.
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