A Sunday shouting match between Nationals manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo after Washington were swept by Philly over the weekend attracted no shortage of attention. And there’s nothing weird about that, not when Johnson allegedly asked Rizzo, “Why don’t you come down here and manage this team?” within earshot of Nationals beat writers. But no worries, Washington fans, not when Nats Insider’s Mark Zuckerman is ready to assist with the coverup. “It all sounds like juicy and salacious stuff,” admits Zuckerman, before insisting, “blowing off a little steam at the right moment never hurt anyone.” That should’ve been Rob Dibble’s excuse!
Don’t mistake the occasional raised voice a sign of animosity between the two. The level of respect Rizzo has for Johnson and vice versa is as strong as you’ll find between any manager and GM in baseball. They’ve each got opinions on a lot of matters, and they’re not afraid to make those opinions known, but they’re on the same page when it comes to the big picture.
Maybe it’s because the Nationals have cruised along all season without any hint of adversity, occupying first place in the NL East for all but 10 days over the last five months, but we tend to forget a baseball season is full of emotional highs and lows. The Nats have done a remarkable job staying even-keeled through it all, not getting excited over winning streaks, not getting demoralized over losing streaks.
But that doesn’t mean these guys don’t have emotions. That doesn’t mean they don’t get upset when something bad happens, whether it’s tossing over a bat rack after striking out or knocking over a clubhouse chair after giving up a run.
These aren’t robots.