New York Mets Fire Willie Randolph: Put a Tent Over This Circus
Remember that Saturday Night Live skit, "Celebrity Jeopardy"? I can't help but think of Will Ferrell as Alex Trebeck staring into the camera saying, "And the show has hit a new low," after the Mets' firing of embattled manager Willie Randolph.
My esteemed colleague Mr. Fennelly has done a great job in dissecting the timing of the firing, and I'd like to take it one step further.
I've been one of the writers on Bleacher Report that has been the most critical of Randolph, and I completely agree with his dismissal. What I do not agree with, however, is the gutless manner in which the trigger was pulled.
If you take away the three blown saves by Billy "master of the ultimate gag-job" Wagner, the Mets would be 12-5 over their last 17. You can look it up.
He took criticism from management over his handling of Mike Pelfrey in his start against the Diamondbacks—letting him start the ninth inning after totaling 110 pitches through the first eight innings—and not playing the percentages by bringing in Wagner in the middle of an inning.
That criticism alone shows me that there are a lot of people in the Mets' organization that have no clue what is going on. Randolph wanted to see what his young pitcher had, Pelfrey told him he wanted to finish the game, so Willie gave him a shot.
You would think the best left-handed reliever in the history of the game, a man who is in the top-five of all-time in saves could come in with a runner on and a multiple-run lead and nail it down. The moves were exactly what should have been done; yet management still had a problem with it.
If the Mets were going to fire Randolph, it should have been done at their famous meeting of the minds over Memorial Day weekend. Instead, he was given a dubious vote of confidence, while everyone knew the ice he was skating on was getting thinner by the minute.
Instead, they waited till the team flew to California to fire him, after the first game of the road trip (a game that they won, by the way). And to make matters worse, they waited until after midnight PST to drop the hammer.
In a move reminiscent of the Baltimore Colts, they put out an early-morning press release, as if it would somehow soften the blow. If you were asked to take a cross-country business trip, and were fired after the first day you were there, you'd be pretty upset too.
What this move has actually done is give us a window into the ultimate circus in Major League Baseball. The way Randolph has been treated over the last few weeks has not shown a shred of class, which is completely unfair to a man who has always carried himself with dignity.
This has been Standard Operating Procedure since the Wilpons became the owners of this club. The in-fighting and backstabbing amongst members of the organization have been rampant since the Steve Phillips era.
Think back to the infamous Scott Kazmir trade: How many different reports did you hear from an 'unnamed source' about the deliberations leading up to the move? Everyone was pointing the finger at someone else.
It's been this way for quite a while now, and the Mets will never win if their organization has more leaks than a post-iceberg Titanic. After the Memorial Day weekend meeting, reports of Randolph's candid evaluations of his players eventually got back to the team. What team is going to play well hearing things like that?
Randolph has been undermined time and again over the past month, and the way he's been treated before and during his termination is some of the most cowardly stuff I've seen in a long time.
The Mets made the right move, but how it was done shows you why no matter how hard this club tries, they'll never reach the Promised Land with an organizational philosophy like this.
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