Johnson kicked the air — someone booting him out — and grinned.
“I’ve always felt like, wherever I was at, as long as I left it better off . . . never in my whole life have I wished I had done something differently,” Johnson said. “It was always about, wherever I had been, I wanted to be everything I can to make the situation I was in better, when I was a player or managing. I wanted, wherever I was at, to do what’s best for the organization. I understood first what was best for the player. If I did what was best for the player, it was best for the organization. I never had any time, whether I was fired or resigned, that I would have done something different. I had no regrets. I never had any regrets.”
Johnson has built a bond, with this team and with this city. How many area fans rooted harder for the Nationals because they remember Johnson’s work with the Baltimore Orioles?
He just moved into his home for the season — Sean Burnett’s old place in Old Town Alexandria. He can see his wife Susan all the time, never more than a week apart no matter the Nationals’ schedule.
“I think if it was just up to him, he would probably manage forever,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “He’s got a family. He’s been in baseball for a long time. He loves baseball, and I think he’ll be involved somehow. I think he’ll definitely have some part, or something where he’s still part and helps or influences what’s done.”
Johnson will not manage forever, at least not with the Nationals. A World Series title this year, along with his seventh division title, would possibly secure a Hall of Fame legacy. He does not care for that, either.
“I don’t think there’s any sentiment,” Johnson said. “Maybe there is. I started with the Washington Senators [in Little League] when I was 9. I was back at it 61 years later managing them. Did I plan on doing that? Hell, no. Is that a full circle? Yeah. Maybe that’s the last opportunity I’ll have with a major league club. I have no idea. I’m not thinking about it.”
Wait. No idea? If he’ll manage another major league team? Could he really picture himself sitting in another dugout — maybe managing against the Nationals?
“I don’t rule anything out,” Johnson said. “I don’t try to make friends outside of my work environment. A lot of people, they go to the winter meetings, they socialize with everybody. I know a lot of people in other organizations, through the past. Do I have a working relationship, a friendship? No. I try not to be in cahoots with the enemy at any time.