The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JUNE  2012

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.


Nationals Win the Pennent
Just maybe...

by Jerry Keys

It was still a shock to many. The doubters had their reasons. The team had not finished at .500 since 2005, it's "first" season. If you were to include its previous home, the team has one playoff appearance in over forty years. The last former Montreal Expo player to leave its 'adopted city,' Washington (Nationals), was Livan Hernandez after the 2011 season. Seeing the Expos leave Montreal was a tragedy, especially when they were the best team in baseball only a decade earlier.

After relocation, the losing continued. But while the losing was taking place, their farm system was developing young talent. Over the last several years, fans have been able to view some of this talent. The only setback was the losing never stopped…until a move the team made last year. It wasn't a player they acquired, but a manager, Davey Johnson.

Jerry Keys

Johnson had last managed in 2000 with the L.A. Dodgers.  He stayed around baseball but after a couple of years, everyone figured he had hung up his managerial cap.  Much to the surprise of many, he was hired to guide the National in mid-season, last year.  Johnson began his coaching career with the New York Mets minor league system in 1981.  He skippered the parent team from 1984-90, winning two NL East titles and a World Series in 1986.  He was hired by the Cincinnati Reds in 1993, following the controversial firing of Tony Perez, and took the Reds to the NLCS in '95.  After 1995, he took a job with the Baltimore Orioles.

He stayed in Baltimore only two seasons, taking the team to back-to-back ALCS. His last stop, prior to Washington, was two years in L.A. Not including years where Johnson coached only a part of the season, he had a winning record in eleven of twelve full seasons. And most people are still stunned Washington is having success. The talent is there in Washington, all they needed was the right manager. Kudos to Nationals brass for pulling an old school manager out of the office and onto the field.

If you want to gauge Johnson's effect on a team, look at the Mets from 1979-1983 and 1991-95. Or look at the Reds from 1996-98, and the Orioles since 1998.

The Nationals shocked everyone in 2005, holding the NL East lead into late July but faded from the race quickly. At press time they led the NL East at 29-21. At the plate, the Nationals have been very lackadaisical; which is a nice way of saying 'they're due for a coming out party.' Their pitching is tops in the NL with Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg posting ERAs under 3.00. Edwin Jackson (3.17 ERA) is the elder statesman of the staff at 28.

Young phenom Bryce Harper is making headlines, as is Steve Lombardozzi (son of 1987 World Series champ Minnesota Twins), and veterans Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche. With Philadelphia seeming to have a down year, the NL East is wide open. Having Johnson at the helm does not guarantee a division title but they will contend for the first time in years. The franchise last saw post-season action when records were still popular, the Atari 2600 was all the rage and E.T. was only in production: 1981.

On a side note, it is only six months to "Humbleday." Three members on the ballot for the Hall will be coming up for the first time. Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were at one time a no-brainer lock for first ballot nomination. They were all three put under the microscope for 'possible' steroid use, and two still are.

Three other first time nominees, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling and Mike Piazza, may just garnish enough attention to push them to the forefront and be a first time Hall'er. If there were no allegations on the first three and all six were up for voting…the sad part is, the three who are under the public eye would have been the three nominees if three were to be voted in on first try.


Mike Piazza 1992 Fleer Update....
Keep me in mind for 2013.