Off-season prior to 2008.
The Mets are coming off one of the biggest chokes of all time (you'd have to look at that Phillies choke, and the 1951 Dodgers too - and I guess the '78 Red Sox) and Willie Randolph is on the ropes.
Across town, the Yankees decide that going to the playoffs every single year isn't good enough.
The Mets could have had a winning manager, one who even had some Mets roots, who could handle veterans (and Omar loves his 40 year olds) and the New York media. They kept Randolph for two months too many.
So Joe went to LA with some ridiculous perception that he only won because of the expensive roster. While I don't doubt that there were plenty of days that I could have sat there and asked Mel if we should bring in Rivera now - apparently it's not that easy or Girardi would have done it.
Joe manages for a full season. This time last year you could have talked about how he wasn't so special without the roster. At the end his team was in the playoffs, the Mets were watching - and Joe even managed to tame Manny Ramirez.
This year, with Manny out of the lineup and with the Padres having recently ran off a 10 game winning streak, Joe wakes up with an 8.5 game lead.
At some point you need to give the man credit. At some point you wonder if he could have coaxed one more game out of the 2008 Mets.