A Tale of Two Ex Mets Managers
Bobby Valentine was fired by the Red Sox… It’s hard to argue that he did anything to deserve keeping his job, but it’s also hard to blame much of the Red Sox team’s failures on Bobby V, either. From afar, Bobby’s biggest sins seem to have been contributing to the circus atmosphere at Fenway, rather than calm the craziness that surrounded the squad that collapsed at the end of 2011.
I will always remember Bobby V fondly as a Mets manager. He was a know-it-all, for sure, and he always had outlandish things to say, but, I liked him because at least most of the time he actually did have the knowledge to back up his assertions. And, when he said outrageous things, he was usually right, even if his decision to assert those things was somewhat dubious. For instance, I don’t know why he chose to randomly pick on Derek Jeter’s “The Flip” play, but he probably had a point.
On the other end of the spectrum, another ex-Mets manager is back in the playoffs, again. Davey Johnson has taken the heretofore sub .500 team The Nationals to a Division Championship.
Davey Johnson took the Mets to the playoffs twice in two years (1986 and 1988), they finished 2nd in 1989, and then he was fired 42 games into the 1990 season with the team 2 games below .500.
Pretty astonishing to think about 25 years later, huh?
Buddy Harrelson took over the team and they went on to finish with 91 wins, good enough for 2nd place. Bud didn’t survive the 1991 Season though, as he was fired with a week to play and replaced by Mike Cubbage.
I’m not even going to mar this column by talking about 1992, but suffice it to say that the Dark Ages were upon us. But what if they hadn’t fired Davey?
Davey himself did just fine; he was hired by the Reds mid-season in 1993 and took the team to finish 1st in the strike shortened 1994 season and the 1995 season. Somehow he wore out his welcome anyway and was fired at the end of 1995.
In 1996, Davey took over the Baltimore Orioles and took them to the playoffs in 1996 and 1997. He won manager of the year in 1997 but was fired anyway.
Davey’s Dodgers weren’t as successful in 1999 and 2000, while Bobby V’s Mets made the playoffs in consecutive years.
I have no idea why Davey is such a difficult employee that owners can’t stand winning with him, but it begs the question… what would have become of the Mets between 1989 and 1999 if Davey Johnson were their manager instead of Buddy Harrelson, Mike Cubbage, Jeff Torborg and Dallas Green?
And what if the Mets had stuck with Bobby V after 2002 instead of hiring Art Howe, or Willie Randolph instead of Jerry Manuel.
I just notice the Mets don’t seem to do very well with replacing successful managers. Whenever the guy who takes them to the playoffs is replaced, they seem to slip into a dark period of ineptitude that makes the previous manager’s years seem like Glory Days.
Not that the current Mets have to worry about that – the Good Ol Days are creeping further and further into the rearview mirror.. but at a time when two ex-Managers are at opposite ends of the success spectrum,, it made me wonder whether they should have stuck it out longer with the last guy with whom they went to the World Series.