Nationals manager Davey Johnson, responsible for the organization’s first and only post-season appearance since moving to Washington in 2005, was honored before the first of two scheduled games against the Marlins today. Johnson is retiring after the season and will act as a consultant to the team going forward.
CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman described the event:
A touching video tribute featuring highlights from both Johnson’s playing and managing career preceded a string of thank-yous from former teammates, current coaches and most players on the Nationals roster. Managing principal owner Ted Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo then presented Johnson with a personalized Tiffany and Co. crystal that read: “In celebration of your decorated baseball legacy and your contributions to the Washington Nationals.”
The crystal included the date “Sept. 21, 2013,” permanent evidence that this ceremony was originally planned for Saturday night but had to be postponed one day after the Nationals’ game against the Marlins was rained out.
Johnson had been saying he didn’t want a long, elaborate ceremony, and the Nationals kept this one fairly brief.
The Nationals lost to the Marlins in the afternoon game by a 4-2 score, which clinched the NL East for the Braves. They will play again this evening. Despite a late-season surge — the Nats are 23-8 since August 20 — it has been a difficult year in Washington as many expected the team to defend last year’s NL East title and make a deep run into the playoffs.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?