Willie Randolph had been on the hot seat all season long. It was no secret that the Mets were not happy with his performance, but they kept Randolph on as manager, despite the swirling rumors and the mounting criticism.
He stayed on until this morning, 3:11 AM to be exact, when the Mets fired him after they defeated the Angels 9-6.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Mets firing Willie Randolph. But be up-front about it, Omar Minaya, Fred Wilpon, and company. They managed to screw up the one thing that Mets fans have begged them for in the last several months.
Look at the timing of the Mets' schedule. The Mets were on the first game of a six-game road trip. They had just flown to the west coast to play in Los Angeles. And after flying for hours on a plane to California, they wait to fire Randolph?
Not fair at all.
And don't forget, Willie's Mets won that night (and the game before). Clearly, they had already made their decision, since winning could not even save his job. That being the case, fire him Sunday. No excuse making him fly out to Los Angeles for one night, and then firing him in the middle of the night after a win.
Now, let's look at the time of firing. 3:11 in the morning. Conveniently after the media has submitted their stories on the East Coast, and after most reasonable people go to bed. They tried to slide this story under the radar as much as possible.
It's hard to imagine the Mets being more cowardly. It seems like they planned this, firing after the first game of the road trip, as far away from the blood-lusting New York media as they could be, and at as inconvenient a time as they could find.
If a team wants to fire a manager, they have every right to. In fact, most fans wanted Randolph gone. The team was below .500 and mired in mediocrity. If they made the decision to fire Randolph, all they really needed to do was do it as any classy organization would, before they went on a big road trip.
Their desire to duck away from criticism and questioning caused them to completely ignore the fired party. Randolph may not have done the best job as manager of the Mets, but he conducted his role with dignity and class.
And while Randolph lost his job, Minaya and the Mets lost their dignity and class. Shame on you, Omar. If winning can't save Randolph's job, then nothing could have, so fire him on Sunday. There were countless times where Randolph could have been legitimately fired.
Tuesday morning at 3:11 in the morning was not one of those times. In the age of the Internet, you can run from your problems, but you can't hide. People will find out.
Whoever made the decision, whether it was Minaya, Wilpon, or someone else, is incompetent at his job. The Mets lost a lot of respect around baseball last night. And Randolph, former pitching coach Rick Peterson, and former first-base coach Tom Nieto will be better off in their new jobs.
After all, whoever hires them likely has a clue on how to run a baseball team, something his former employers can't boast.