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LAME DUCK FLIES OFF EARLY JOHNSON BOOTED IN DODGERS FINALE SAN DIEGO 4, DODGERS 0.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

SAN DIEG - Dodgers management is poised to cut manager Davey Johnson's tenure short after two seasons rather than finish out his three-year contract. Johnson then cut his tenure short by another seven innings.

He got the jump on the offseason when he let out some frustration in an argument during the Dodgers' season-ending 4-0 loss at San Diego on Sunday.

In what was likely his last moment in a Dodgers uniform, Johnson was tossed from the game, and as he was walking off the field tipped his cap and waved his hand to the Qualcomm Stadium crowd.

And with a meeting looming Friday with Dodgers managing partner, CEO and chairman Bob Daly, Johnson knows this was likely his last game.

``It looked like there could have been a confrontation between the umpire and my pitcher, and it's a fitting way to go,'' said Johnson, the winningest active manager. ``It's a season of what could have been. But there's a good future here and I think things will be good here. I enjoyed being a Dodger.''

It was Johnson's fourth ejection of the season and perhaps there is no better way for him to go out after a turbulent two years in which he was undercut by management efforts to find a scapegoat for the team not reaching lofty expectations set forth by the brass the last two seasons.

Johnson was upset after a strange few moments in the second inning. Mike Darr was on first and took off on the pitch and John Mabry fouled it off. But with no fanfare and no announcement, a balk was called. Darr then scored on Mabry's single to right-center field to give the Padres a 1-0 lead.

``I feel like Davey held us together,'' Dodgers All-Star left fielder Gary Sheffield said. ``Davey's a good man. Davey's respected all over the league and I feel like I don't care who's managing this team, they couldn't have done any better. I'll always be supportive of Davey, and rightfully so because he did his job.

``I understand this is the way the game is: If they're not satisfied with the results of the team, the manager takes the rap. That's how it's been over the history of the game and it's no different in this situation. We all have to be professional about it.''

General manager Kevin Malone led the charge in saying the organization needed to be rebuilt when he arrived two years ago, but with it he placed expectations on a club that, according to people throughout baseball, doesn't have the talent to compete at a playoff level.

The Dodgers (86-76) finished in second place in the National League West. The last time they won more games was in 1997. Despite the organization needing an overhaul - the words of management two years ago - the Dodgers went 163-161 in Johnson's two seasons.

Frustration has built up for the way Johnson was treated this season, particularly when he was called out by Daly and Malone in July. Daly told Johnson the team needed to play with more fire. Malone questioned Johnson's managerial tactics, comments which led to the circus-like atmosphere in which the manager's job was on the line if the Dodgers didn't qualify for the playoffs.

So, with Johnson's fate all but sealed, he went out with some fire and pizzazz.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Davey Johnson heads for dugout Sunday in San Diego after being ejected from what is expected to be his final game as Dodgers manager.

Denis Poroy/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 2, 2000
Words:593
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