Magic: Not 'lost season' for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- When Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson said in February that anything short of a World Series appearance would be "not a good season for us," it was widely viewed as a statement from ownership that there could be major changes if the team fell short of its goal.
But Johnson said Tuesday he doesn't view the Dodgers' loss in the National League Championship Series as a "lost season."
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"We're excited about what we're building, and we're ahead of schedule," Johnson said Tuesday in an appearance on 710 ESPNLA. "I never thought we would get there that fast, to play in the [NLCS]. I was excited.
"I'll always be upset if we lose. To my thinking, to not win a championship is always not a good season for me. That's my personal feeling. I don't want to say it was a 'lost season,' because we're still coming together and we'll be even better next season."
Johnson, who said he has not been able to watch a World Series game because he is so upset over the Dodgers' NLCS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, also addressed comments made by manager Don Mattingly at an end-of-season news conference.
Mattingly said it was a tough season for him operating as a "lame duck" manager on a one-year deal. His option has already vested for 2014, but Mattingly would like a long-term extension. One source familiar with the discussions about a possible contract extension said Tuesday there is "nothing to talk about."
Both Mattingly and the Dodgers said last week that he would return to manage the team next season.
"Some people just react differently in different situations," Johnson said. "I don't look at it as a bad situation for Don. I think he regrets, probably, some of the things he said, and that's OK, but you know we're going to move forward. Don's a good manager."
Johnson said this season showed him a lot about Mattingly's mettle as a manager.
"The most important thing is how you handle the players and help them get better. And the players love Don. They play for him," Johnson said. "He understands what they're going through. He didn't panic when we got off to a rough start. That showed me a lot. And then he didn't try to take all the credit when we were doing well. That showed me a lot about him as well."
One of the Dodgers' primary orders of business this winter is to sign ace Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal. Kershaw, whose salary would likely set an arbitration record if he reaches that process this spring, is eligible for free agency after next season, but the sides have discussed several possibilities for long-term deals. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Kershaw tabled discussions about a $300 million lifetime contract until after the season.
"What happened is we were negotiating with him and everything just got put on hold because it was during the season," Johnson said. "That was a great move by him and his people to say, 'Let's just wait.' We plan on signing him back."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne was used in this report.
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