Johnson: Harper Should Focus On Baseball, Not Contract

Davey Johnson discussed his new book and hit numerous topics during an in-studio appearance on Tiki and Tierney

Tiki and Tierney
May 31, 2018 - 9:37 am

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Davey Johnson dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss numerous topics, including Bryce Harper, the 1986 New York Mets, and his new book, “Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond.”

Johnson, 75, had a stellar career as both a player and a manger. He played in the bigs for more than a decade, was a four-time All-Star, and won two World Series titles as a player (with Baltimore in 1966 and 1970) and one as a manager (with the Mets in ’86). He also managed the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, and Nationals, retiring with an incredible .588 winning percentage.

So, Davey, just how wild was it?

“It was very wild, and I admit I enjoyed every minute of it,” Johnson said on Tiki and Tierney. “The biggest thrill I had obviously was managing the New York Mets. . . . We had guys from different walks of life, and they all did their job. The thing about a team, chemistry is when everybody knows their job and they do it well – and that’s what we were doing in ’84. We had a few little holes, in ’85 we got better – we won 98 games – and in ’86 I knew we had all the people in place. I told the team we’re going to not only win, we’re going to dominate – and, of course, we did. We won 108 games and then won the World Series. But it’s all about individuals on the team knowing their role – and they all did.”

Johnson’s last managerial stop was in D.C., where he led the Nationals to 98 wins during Bryce Harper’s rookie season in 2012.

“He’s a wonderful human being,” Johnson said. “The only thing that I’m upset with that’s going on today is he’s more worried about, it seems like, his big contract after he’s a free agent instead of just enjoying the game and playing it.”

Harper, 25, will hit free agency at the end of the year. He is one of the top players in baseball and could command a contract north of $400 million.

“He loves it down there with the Nationals,” Johnson said. “But all the press wants to talk about is how much money you’re going to make after you’re a free agent.”

That’s fair, Brandon Tierney said, but if the media keeps asking questions about free agency, Harper has to answer them, right?

“I know, but he also lets it go on,” Johnson said. “He should just be saying, ‘I just want to be a National, I want to have a good year and help them win.’ And he’s doing that now. I hope it works out.”

Harper is hitting .238 with 17 home runs, 39 RBIs, and a .384 OBP for the Nationals (31-22), who trail the Braves (32-22) by a half game in the NL East.

Johnson also weighed in on rule changes in baseball. From instant replay to pace of play, Johnson isn’t a fan of new rules that have popped up in recent years.

“Hell no,” he said.

Johnson also called the obsession with launch angles and exit velocity “a bunch of crap.”

He also isn’t a fan of the Chase Utley Rule, which bans takeout slides at second base.

“I was a second baseman for a long time,” Johnson said. “If they learned the footwork down there, they would never get hurt.”

As for his book, Johnson will participate in multiple signings in New York and New Jersey the week, including an appearance at Barnes & Noble (555 Fifth Avenue at 46th Street) on Friday from 1-3 p.m. ET.