How the New York Mets Can Save the Little Face They Have Left

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 23:  The New York Mets mascot, Mr. Mets,  performs on field during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field on June 23, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

As someone who has spent his daily life in Human Resources for the past 11 years and a New York Mets fan, I am completely torn. My daily life is spent valuing ethics and creating an open environment for all.

The Mets are a Human Resources Department’s worst nightmare.

Yesterday, the Mets held a press conference to say that their Vice President of Player Development, Tony Bernazard was fired for gross misconduct by trying to start a fight in the New York Mets double-A clubhouse in Binghamton, NY.

Here was Adam Rubin’s original report that ran in the New York Daily News on July 22, 2009.

It appeared that the Mets went through the proper channels by bring in Human Resources to speak with eyewitnesses and come up with the proper evidence to fire Bernazard.

The announcement was made around 3 PM, yesterday that the Mets were going to fire Bernazard. The last person you thought you would remember after the press conference would be Adam Rubin.

But the Mets yet again cannot seem to do anything right and turned a just firing into a media circus. In the largest sports market in the country, the last thing you want to see is a headline on the front page of the most read paper in your city that says, “Smears of a Clown!”

I think it was completely fair that the Mets questioned the source of the report. In Human Resources, when you hear a complaint, you determine if the source has something to personally gain by revealing this information. After you meet with the accused and the witness you determine the facts and you move forward with your actions.

There is just one problem with that. You never go out to the public or media and release that you know that the reporter went to the ownership to talk about a possible position with the club.

The Mets had a chance to bury a minor story and throw it away. The Mets just could not do it. The team even emailed all of their fans on their email list to announce that Bernazard was fired. This was totally unnecessary.

A good majority of Mets fans do not really know who Tony Bernazard is, and the ones that do know were not really sure what he actually did for the club. But they could not let this deed go without being vengeful. 

It was absolutely the wrong time and place for that. It made the Mets seem like they were going for the eye-for-an-eye route. That kind of behavior is totally unprofessional.

No one is sure whether Adam Rubin went to the ownership of the Mets looking for a job or just to trying to network on how someone could get a job in player personnel in the major leagues. It is common practice to network in any field.

The one question I have on Rubin was his interest in working in Major League Baseball. I have a feeling that Rubin is trying to play it both ways, and right now he has the media in his pocket and the upper hand on the Mets.

Obviously if Adam Rubin’s report was false, Tony Bernazard likely would still have his job with the Mets. Were there discrepancies from Rubin’s report to the one filed with Human Resources? Absolutely. Today, Adam Rubin wrote that he stands by his story and that it was accurate. While his story was true, it does not mean it was 100 percent accurate.

I am sure there were discrepancies from what Rubin was told and from what Bernazard and the eyewitnesses said to Human Resources. There are always two sides to every story.

If the Mets hired me as their consultant, here is how I would guide the team in attempt to regain some of what they lost in terms of credibility yesterday:

First, apologize to Adam Rubin. Apologize directly to him; do not go through the media channels. I would try to have a member of the Wilpon family meet with him along with Omar Minaya, and possibly a member of the Human Resources Department to witness the meeting.

Instead, Omar Minaya made a public apology to the media last night without any mention that he had any private conversation with Rubin.

I would have Minaya say to Rubin that I picked the wrong place and the wrong time to discuss the personal motivation of the writer.

Second, I would do my best to let Rubin know that he is a good reporter that has been working for the newspaper on the Mets for the past six years.

Third, I would want Rubin to know that we do not want him to feel unwelcome in the team’s locker room and clubhouse. You want to maintain that you are a professional organization and you are not looking to turn your job into a hostile work environment. Stress that the players and coaches is still open to your questions.

Fourth, if you plan on keeping Omar Minaya as General Manager, please let him take a course in public speaking or have him write his own script. Sometimes when you are reading from a script that you probably did not write means that you may or may not believe what you are saying.

Omar Minaya looked lost at the podium. He said the word investigate 13 times during the seven minutes that he spoke. He stuttered and stammered like a man who did not read what he was saying before he spoke to the media.

Finally, the biggest way the Mets can put this disgraceful act to bed is to something that no one in the front office can do. That is to win on the field. Winning makes people forget some of their problems.

Winning is an elixir. It is rare to hear about an organization that is known as being classless when it is a winner. It has happened, but that team has to do something very serious to tarnish its image.

The Mets now have stooped to a level that only another team that dresses in orange and blue has hit, and those are the New York Knicks. The Mets are only a harassment suit away from that abyss.

Oh, by the way, Tony Bernazard was fired for cause yesterday.