Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just a second-rate team

The Mets fired Willie Randolph at 3:11 a.m. Eastern time this morning. The team had just finished a homestand on Sunday, flew across country to begin a series with the Angels (no misprint - it's interleague) and THEN the Mess fire the manager after they win the game.

The way the Mess went about this is preposterous. First, there have been rumors since early in the season that Randolph's job was tenuous because of the Mess' collapse last year. In May, Randolph had a meeting with the ownership and general manager Omar Minaya in which the Mess made no decision other than to keep the bad situation bad. In June, Randolph's been criticized for bad managerial decisions but the Mess' failure on the field has been worsened by Billy Wagner blowing three consecutive saves. Now, the Mess decide to can Randolph in the middle of the night (in NYC). Want an explanation?

Mets owner Fred Wilpon told 1050 ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand that the decision to fire Willie Randolph and his coaches and the timing of the move were solely Minaya's.

"Omar is in charge," Wilpon told 1050 ESPN New York Tuesday morning. "It was his decision. He made that decision a short time ago, obviously, and decided what to do. You have to ask Omar about that."

That's just ludicrous buck-passing. And typical of the Mess' front office, as Buster Olney explains:

The personnel meetings the Mets hold are said by participants to run on for hours, the discussion often turning circular and pointless. And maybe that's when it starts to happen in their organization when they get to the point where the staff members are so beaten down emotionally and intellectually that they don't have the ability to stand up and scream: Are you people crazy? Are you serious? Because this is a really bad idea -- no, no, wait, let's go one step further: It's really just flat-out nuts.

* * *

When the Mets sputtered in April, the backstabbing began, with Randolph being undermined along the way. Words of Randolph's honest player evaluations in those staff meetings somehow made their way to the ears of players. That left the manager in a brutal position of trying to draw performance out of veterans who heard that behind closed doors the manager wasn't so sure if they had the right stuff anymore. Some on-field staff members doubted whether they could trust the front office.

And when the losing continued, the front-office leaks to the newspapers became rivers of rip-jobs, the leakers inoculated by the fact that they fired first. It's better to blame the manager and his coaches, after all, than to take responsibility. But even after Randolph's demise became a fait accompli, which was sometime in the last days of May, the decision-makers stopped focusing on the change itself and started becoming concerned about properly scripting his firing.

And that's why the Mess are New York's OTHER team.

For a tremendous screed that completely shreds the Mess' front office, read this great piece from Mike Vaccaro.

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