Melvin, Johnson picked as managers of the year
By BEN WALKER
NEW YORK (AP) Young rosters, small budgets, limited expectations.
Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics and Washington's Davey Johnson won big right away and were chosen as managers of the year Tuesday after guiding their teams to huge turnaround seasons.
Melvin beat out Baltimore's Buck Showalter for the AL honor in a close vote by a Baseball Writers' Association of America panel. In his first full season with Oakland, the rookie-laden A's made a 20-game improvement, finished 94-68 and stunned just about everyone by winning the AL West with baseball's lowest payroll.
Still, the unassuming skipper was surprised to win.
"Absolutely shocked. I mean, Buck had such a great year," Melvin said on MLB Network.
Johnson was an easy choice for the NL prize after the Nationals - who had never enjoyed a winning season - posted the best record in the majors and made their first playoff appearance.
Johnson, who turns 70 in January, was honored for the second time. He was tabbed as the AL's top manager in 1997, hours after he resigned from the Orioles in a feud with owner Peter Angelos.
This time, Johnson will get a while to enjoy the accolade.
The Nationals announced this month that he will guide them in 2013, when he will be the oldest manager in the majors. He's set to leave the Washington dugout and become a team consultant in 2014.
"World Series or bust," Johnson said on MLB Network. "It's going to be my last year, anyway."
Melvin also became a two-time winner, having been chosen in 2007 with Arizona. He and Johnson joined Jim Leyland, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella as the only managers to win the award in both leagues.
La Russa was the only other Oakland manager to earn the honor, in 1988 and 1992.
Melvin received 16 first-place votes. Showalter got the other 12 after leading the wild-card Orioles to their first winning season since 1997, and Chicago White Sox first-year manager Robin Ventura finished third.
With five rookies in their starting rotation, the A's were one of baseball's biggest surprises this year - especially after trades, injuries and the suspension of veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon wreaked havoc with the roster. Oakland never panicked under Melvin's cool demeanor, rallying from 13 games back on June 30 and overtaking Texas in the final week to win the division.
The Athletics went 72-38 after June 1, the best record in the majors. They became the first team in big league history to come back from a deficit of at least five games with fewer than 10 remaining to win a division or pennant. The A's then lost in five games in the first round of the playoffs to AL champion Detroit.
"We just tried to keep it day to day," Melvin said. "It's a credit to the guys each and every day going out there and just worrying about that particular day."
Johnson received 23 of the 32 first-place votes, while Dusty Baker of NL Central winner Cincinnati got five firsts and came in second. Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants got four firsts and was third.
Washington won its second major individual award, both in the past two days. Bryce Harper was voted NL Rookie of the Year on Monday.
Before the season, a confident Johnson declared that if the Nationals didn't win the NL East, he'd probably be fired. Washington went 98-64, taking over the division lead in late May and staying in first place the rest of the way. Boosted by Harper, Cy Young Award candidate Gio Gonzalez and their fresh "Natitude," they brought postseason baseball to Washington for the first time since 1933.
"This award's really nice, but I look at the award as an organizational award," Johnson said. "Young players this year really stepped in when key players got hurt. ... We had a lot of young catchers come up and everybody really produced and it was just a remarkable year. Actually, I didn't think they overachieved, they just played up to their ability."
The playoffs didn't go quite so well. Minus Stephen Strasburg - team execs decided the ace had pitched enough in his first "full" season following elbow surgery - Washington blew a 6-0 lead and lost the deciding Game 5 of the division series to St. Louis. Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs.
Johnson oversaw a diverse roster, one made up of young and old, Washington veterans and newcomers. A four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time World Series champion and the last big leaguer to get a hit off Sandy Koufax, Johnson spoke with a soft, raspy tone but always held his team's attention.
He would occasionally raise his voice - he liked to holler "whack-o!" when the Nationals homered.
"Davey Johnson's legacy was secure well before he became our manager in 2011, but his performance this season has to rate among his best work," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He showed this club how to win despite being engaged in a pennant race for the first time. And he accomplished this with so many young players."
Johnson managed the New York Mets to the 1986 championship and later guided Cincinnati and the Orioles. He returned to managing in 1999 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years.
In June 2011, Johnson was working as a senior adviser with the Nationals when Jim Riggleman suddenly resigned midway through the season. Johnson took over and agreed to be part of a search committee to select a manager for 2012, allowing that he could be a candidate for the post, too.
The Nationals finished 80-81, barely missing out on their first winning season, and Johnson was brought back for another try.
"What it really comes down to is, you've got to know the makeup of a guy. Know who he handles and when he's going to have some tough times, tough matchups," Johnson said. "So you go with your gut most of the time. You go with your instincts. You don't even want to ask anybody if you're getting ready to make a change or whatever, because you don't want any ties or anything like that."
Washington was without major league baseball for more than three decades. The Senators moved to Texas after the 1971 season, then the Montreal Expos moved to D.C. to start in 2005.
Under Johnson, the Nationals put aside their losing past and set up a winning future.
The same is true of the A's.
Fired by the Diamondbacks early in 2009, Melvin was hired as Oakland's interim manager on June 9, 2011. Three months later, he signed a three-year contract that runs through the 2014 season.
AP Sports Writer Mike Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.
Updated November 14, 2012
In the latest edition of the "It Is What It Is" podcast, Chris Price and CSNNE's Mike Giardi take a look at the Patriots offseason on both sides of the ball, try and get a handle on which new guys will make an impact first, and whether or not the Patriots have altered their style when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers.
Mike Florio joined the program to discuss the Jets decision to release Tim Tebow, he said the situation is as disaster all around for the Jets and that the problems begins with owner Woody Johnson. Mike also said that he was disappointed with the Pats moving back in the first round.
One of the hardest working men in the biz, Mike Petraglia aka "Trags", sits down with Butch Stearns live in Foxborough to help break down all the latest Pats moves. He discusses his reaction to the trade in Round 1 and the guys those picks produced. Also, the boys talk about the decent trade the Pats made in acquiring LeGarrette Blount from Tampa Bay for Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder.
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the trade rumors swirling around Paul Pierce, KG, Doc Rivers and the Celtics. She also discusses the future of the Celtics head coach.
Stephen A. joined the program to discuss the trade rumors he has reported regarding a possible trade including Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Stephen A. also told the guys that he has heard that Danny and Doc may be tiring of working together.
Joe Castiglione talked with John Lackey after he picked up the W against the Twins. Lackey threw seven innings, and retired the 1st twelve batters of the game.
Dave O'Brien talked to John Farrell before the end of the Twins series. The Sox skipper said that Big Papi's success is no surprise given his work ethic.
John Farrell postgame press conference
Dale and DJ roll on with their puck talk and chat some more about the goalie matchup in this series, as well as the lack of a quality power play for both of these teams. In fact, DJ says the Rangers are even worse on the PP than the B’s! The guys also get into the resurgence of Milan Lucic and his deceptive speed and grit. Dale and DJ talk about the similar styles of play for these teams and look forward to Game 2.
Dale and DJ get into the two coaches and their polar opposite styles and demeanor. Both teams play a similar style, but the coaches certainly convey their messages in a different way. Dale isn't buying the Tortorella hype and thinks he's a little overrated. DJ thinks he's a good coach, but isn't a fan of anti-media stance. The guys also talk about Jagr and how he has not lived up to the hype. They weren't expecting him to light it up or be the savior, but DJ says he wasn't prepared for just how slow the aging veteran is. Another big topic for B's fans this season is the play of Tyler Seguin and why he has yet to become the superstar everyone anticipates he will be. This leads to Claude Julien's style and if he does actually have something against the younger players. That Iginla trade shows its ugly head again as well.
WEEI.com's DJ Bean joins Dale in studio for Sports Sunday to discuss the Bruins playoff run. Game 2 is later today and the guys discuss the results of the first game of the series. They get into the construction of the lines for the B's and if they would make any changes. DJ has a few ideas for the lines today. The boys also discuss the two goalies - Tuukka vs Henrik Lundqvist and wonder why people automatically think the Rangers have the edge at goalie. Finally, they get into the legacy and the decisions of Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli.
Shawn joined the program to discuss another overtime win for the Bruins. When asked about Game 7 against Toronto, Thornton said that he would like to keep his specific comments in the dressing room private, but acknowledged that he encouraged Tyler Seguin to up his play and it paid off in overtime.
Barry joined the guys to help breakdown the Bruins overtime win last night in game one. Barry said that he has rarely seen a team dominate as much as the Bruins yet be forced to an overtime.
Boomer joined the program to discuss the tough loss for his beloved Rangers. Boomer told the guys that Lundqvist will be better in game two and predicted a seven game series.
Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski has emerged as one of the young stars of the team and he joins Mut and Tom Caron to discuss his role on the team, why he's confident, and the trade that almost sent him to Calgary.
Millar joins the show to discuss the recent Sox slide, Jacoby Ellsbury's lack of power, and hitting in the big leagues.
Andy Brickley joins the show to discuss the Bruins Game 1 win over the Rangers, the play of the three young Bruins defensemen, and the fatigue Jagr has shown on the ice.
We talk all things game one with Jack Edwards of NESN, and get to hear a little from Jack's Finnish protege as well.
We tackle four topics we haven't yet touched upon today.. Joe Thornton and disappointing former Boston athletes, parking in Boston, buying jersey numbers and more...
We talk about the report that Rob Gronkowski may now be a candidate for back surgery with a disc problem. Is Gronk just an injury prone guy? Or is he not rehabbing proberly? Can the Pats build an offense around a guy who is so inconsistently on the field? We discuss.
The Bruins have almost finished raking the Leafs, the Red Sox struggle from the mound, Miami Heat fans show their level of class.
Daily Planet Wednesday May 8th
Today on the Daily Planet the Bruins take a 2-1 series lead, the Red Sox get a run-off win, and we hear about cannibals and bible thieves.
Sounds like a prostate exam to me!
Damn New Yorkers!
Sauce Man stylings!
Linda explains how the shootout transpired in Watertown during the early morning hours. She saw the first suspect mortally wounded and police beginning the manhunt for the second suspect.More from this show
We check in with Danny Ainge for our first talk to him since the Celtics season ended last weekend. We talk about the future of the team, KG, Pierce, Doc Rivers and more, as Danny directly answers the rumors being floated by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.More from this show
Buster Olney joins the show to discuss the muddled AL East, the average play of Ellsbury and how that will affect him in free agency, and Tropicana Field.More from this show