WASHINGTON -- If Davey Johnson were to play a word association game and the phrase "Manager of the Year Award" came up, his response might be startling.
Johnson has received the award once before -- in 1997, when he led the Orioles to the American League East title, a year after helping the team reach the playoffs via the Wild Card for the first time since 1983 -- but he and the club parted ways the same day.
"I just have bad thoughts about that," Johnson said. "The last time I got the award, it was the same time I got my pink slip."
Johnson had a rocky relationship with Orioles owner Peter Angelos, which led to the parting of the ways. But Johnson has led a similar resurgence in Washington, and the Nationals will bring postseason baseball to D.C. this fall for the first time since 1933.
Come this weekend, the 69-year-old skipper will have led four teams (including the Mets, with whom he won a World Series title in 1986) to the postseason. Entering Monday, he had amassed 2,280 managerial wins.
"I'm not big on individual awards," he said. "It's always been, 'What's the team doing as a group?' Being in the playoffs, that's step one. Winning the division, step two. Winning the World Series, step three. As far as winning individual awards, that's nice -- it's fun to be considered by your peers that you had a decent year. But it's not a big deal to me."
But because of the job he's done with the surprise Nationals this season, Johnson is considered a favorite for the award. And, of course, there's a possibility that he could meet Baltimore in a Beltways World Series later this month.
"I think it's great. Great," he said of the Orioles, another surprise success. Then he joked about manager Buck Showalter's future with the club if they win the AL East: "Beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees. That'll get you fired."