Willie Randolph, Fired
Fired after last night’s win at Anaheim. Down the street from Disneyland, no less. Jerry Manuel is the new interim manager. There will be more media yapping and hype. For now, enjoy the New York Times’ take on the situation, because I don’t have much to say besides “mishandled”:
Randolph’s fate was probably sealed last season after the Mets’ monumental collapse. After staying in first place for most of the year, the Mets were run down by the Philadelphia Phillies. They were caught, passed and eliminated on the final day of the season.
The lingering humiliation was too much to overcome, and other factors exacerbated the condition and hinted at what was coming:
¶ The Mets sputtered out of the gate.
¶ Randolph’s personality became an issue — as it always does when the team isn’t winning enough. Randolph committed the cardinal sin of invoking race and racism in an off-handed comment he incorrectly thought was “off the record.”
¶ The Wilpons refused to take his calls, then called him on the carpet for a browbeating.
It was past time to make a break; the break was finally made, round midnight.
This may yet end up being a twin killing; the focus is now squarely on Omar Minaya, the congenial general manager who dealt Randolph a team with a mixture of promising and aging players, some who are paid like superstars but perform like average major leaguers.
Minaya chose Randolph to take over as manager for the 2005 season.
Throughout this bizarre ordeal, Minaya has come across as a marionette, a front office executive who doesn’t have the autonomy that was discussed before the season.
You can argue that no general manger truly has autonomy, but some are better at maintaining the illusion than others. For Minaya, that illusion is gone. He is in the spotlight.
The firing ends months of wavering. The process of firing or not firing Randolph had become an unsightly display of weakness and a public embarrassment for a franchise that has not won a World Series championship in more than two decades but one that has one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball.
Rather than come out and announce that Randolph was done or undone, Minaya and the team’s ownership hesitated and sent unclear signals. There was speculation about Randolph’s status after every loss; the intervals were reduced to each inning, each pitch, each play.
What’s worse is that the organization, in its indecisiveness, seemed to be taking the blood lust of fans into consideration.
The Mets split a doubleheader Sunday with the Texas Rangers, taking two of three in the weekend series to complete a 3-3 homestand that would have ended up a lot better if closer Billy Wagner and his fellow relievers had not blown several leads.
Still, on Sunday evening, Minaya wouldn’t say how long Randolph would be at the helm. even though Randolph was boarding the team plane to fly here. Was he being forced to fly across the country to be fired?
“I think we’re not playing up to our potential,” Minaya said after the doubleheader. “I always leave room to evaluate things.”
This indecisiveness seemed to traverse the entire organization and was clearly in play during the team’s dubious handling of outfielder Ryan Church’s second concussion in three months.
After that second concussion, which occurred when Church’s head was struck by the knee of Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar on May 20, the Mets allowed Church to accompany the team to Colorado, where he pinch-hit several times despite indicating to reporters that he didn’t feel right.
No one in the organization stepped in, no one put his foot down and said no, until the situation lingered for weeks, with Church never really recovering. Only then was he put on the disabled list.
The Randolph situation was different in degree, but until the stunning midnight announcement after Monday’s game, the organization took the same wishy-washy, day-to-day approach in determining Randolph’s fate.
Now, finally, there is resolution.