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Johnson wins Manager of the Year

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Johnson wins Manager of the Year

The awards just keep rolling in for the Nationals. A day after Bryce Harper was named N.L. Rookie of the Year, Davey Johnson has been honored as the league’s best manager.


Johnson managed the Nationals to 98 wins and a N.L. East division title in his first full season with the team in 2012. They improved their record by 18 victories from the season before and jumped from third in the N.L. East to first.

This is Johnson’s second time winning a league manager of the year award, he took the honor in the American League with the Orioles in 1997. He is just the fifth manager in MLB history to win the award in both leagues and the first in Nationals history to win one at all.



After winning the award in 1997, Johnson left the Orioles because of a rift with the owner. On Tuesday after learning he had won the award once again, he joked about avoiding the same fate.



“If we didn’t win the division I thought I was going to get fired, and if I won this award I thought I was going to get fired,” he said. “Hopefully I can live through getting this award and manage the Nationals in 2013.”

Johnson originally joined the organization in June of 2006 as a consultant. He took over the Nats on June 17, 2011 after two managers resigned midseason, moving to the dugout from an advisor role. The Nationals finished 40-43 under Johnson in 2011 with an 80-81 record overall.

After watching the team closely for several years, and managing them for half a season, Johnson knew he had a talented roster heading into 2012.

“I was at spring training the one year before and I really had two spring trainings to get to know the whole organization. That was really critical for me,” he said.

“I really had a lot of confidence after my second spring training with the front office, with the ownership, with everybody. And my evaluation of talent after 2011, I think it was pretty correct.”

Johnson and the Nationals collectively reached another level this season, reaching the playoffs for the first time since the club moved to Washington. It was the first playoff appearance for the franchise since 1981 and just the second in the organization’s history. 



“Guys really didn’t overachieve, they just played up to their potential. There’s still a higher ceiling there for a lot of the players. It was a fun year for me and with another year of experience it is going to set us up to be even stronger and better.”

A World Series winner as both a player and a manager, the Nationals are the fifth team Johnson has coached. He began with the New York Mets in 1984 before stints with the Reds, Orioles, and Dodgers. In 16 seasons as an MLB manager Johnson holds a 595-417 record overall (.588 winning percentage).

In 2012 Johnson had to manage through injuries to many key players. He lost Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Drew Storen, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos, and Drew Storen all for significant amounts of time. Throw in a potential distraction involving Stephen Strasburg, a national story about him being shut down that lasted for months, and 2012 was not without adversity.



Johnson pointed to his veterans and organizational depth as two important factors in the team surviving as well as they did.

“The improved bench and the young guys stepping up, those were the keys,” he said.

“That’s a tribute to the organization that they could do that. The pitching held us in there so that we had a chance to beat anybody. Those guys had to contribute, they had to do things. And my bench was outstanding, my bench won a lot of ballgames.”

Johnson beat out Dusty Baker of the Reds and Bruce Bochy of the Giants for the award. Johnson received 23 first place votes and a total of 131 points in the Baseball Writers' Association of America's voting system.

Johnson becomes the third manager in franchise history to win manager of the year after Felipe Alou in 1994 and Buck Rodgers in 1987.

Before the 2012 season Johnson had all but guaranteed the Nationals would be a good team, telling CSNwashington that he could be fired if the team didn’t make the playoffs. When asked for a similar proclamation, the Nats skipper cited his plan to retire after 2013 as having nothing to lose.

“World Series or bust, it’s going to be my last year anyways,” he said.

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Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals' Dusty Baker thinks Washington teams are positioned to win a championship this year

Nationals manager Dusty Baker is back for a second year and feeling optimistic for his Washington team. Spring training has begun in Florida and it has Baker thinking about how the Nats can create some excitement for local sports fans.

In an interview with American University’s WAMU radio station, Baker said D.C. wants to be a "city of champions.” Furthermore, he thinks it can be pulled off before the year ends.

"I came here to win a championship and you know I would love nothing more than to bring one to Washington. Washington, I didn’t know it before I got there, but it’s had a tough time getting out of the first round in a number of sports."

He projected the Nationals to bring home the next championship for the District, but he knows they have competition of late. 

"Washington Wizards are looking pretty good. I’m pulling for them first because their season ends before ours, so I’ve been really following them. The Capitals have a good thing going. I started watching the Redskins more this year.

"You know once it gets contagious in a city and you get a positive attitude throughout the city, then it transfers to the sports teams. So we want to be known as a city of champions, before the end of the year hopefully."

Baker has a reputation for bringing out the best in his teams, especially managing star players. He managed the San Francisco Giants for ten seasons before moving on to the Chicago Cubs, a team he managed for four seasons.

He's never won a World Series, but has taken a team to Game 7. He also finished third for the 2016 National League Manager of the Year award.

So, what are Baker’s steps for the Nationals to get that ultimate prize? A simple formula, really.

"I think that we’ve got to stay healthy, number one. We’re trying to fill the holes that we need to fill, and we’ve got to play," he said. "You know last year we were very close, we were one hit away or one play away or one pitch away from going to the next round against the Cubs."

While he says he came to win Washington a championship, he's also enjoying his time in the city. 

"I love D.C. Before that, San Francisco was my favorite town; that’s my home. But I tell you, D.C. is definitely in the running," he said. "I thought San Francisco had the best seafood, but man, you guys have the best seafood I think in the world."

Thanks, Dusty!

The Nationals play their first spring training game against the New York mets on Saturday.

RELATED: NATIONALS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE

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Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

Former Nationals outfielder admits to drinking vodka before MLB games

When it comes to sports, we sometimes forget that the athletes we look up to are just normal people. Normal people who have a lot to prove to millions of people on a weekly basis. Former Nationals outfielder Rick Ankiel has discussed one of his human moments in an interview with 590 The Fan in St. Louis.

Ankiel admitted to drinking vodka during his plight as a pitcher. He referenced his first two starts of the 2001 season, in particular against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he allowed his anxiety to give in to alcohol to soothe him. In the previous postseason, he became the first pitcher since 1980 to throw five wild pitches in a single inning. 

It may have worked for a couple of games but Ankiel eventually realized it was only making matters worse.

Ankiel began playing in Majors at the age of 19, and has had a fluctuating career through six teams. All the while, he has kept a “never give up” mentality.

Why the sudden need to vent? Ankiel is getting up close and personal with his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed my Life” which is co-written by sports writer Tim Brown. The book will be released on April 18.  

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