Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Axe Has Fallen & The Willie Will Not Rise

I just happened to go to sleep last night with SNY still on. When my dual alarm clocks shook me awake at exactly 6:30 this morning, I instinctively sat up and started to stare at the TV. Out from the paid programming popped Steve Overmyer with breaking news. He was saying that Willie Randolph - along with Peterson and Nieto - had been fired. Was I still dreaming? If so, what a dream! I reached for my phone and saw a new text message. It had come at 5:16 AM and stated "Bye bye Willie...randolph has been fired..."

I was definitely awake. This had definitely gone down. Like everyone else, I was pretty surprised by the timing (both the time of night and that it had happened after a win). My time getting ready for work was spent thinking about this. I had a strong dislike for Willie Randolph the Manager dating back to when he was hired, but I also respected Willie Randolph the man. I wanted him to get fired, and I'm ecstatic that he did, but I do feel bad for him. I genuinely feel bad for the man.

There are other people involved in this who I don't feel bad for at all - the New York media, and some clowns at ESPN. To them, the way the Mets handled this is another sign of their ineptitude, their lack of class, their disregard for human decency. But the media doesn't really give a damn about Randolph the man, they give a damn that the timing of his firing made it impossible for them to get their stories in before deadline. We keep hearing "Oh my God, it was 3AM!!" It wasn't, it was actually 12 AM. We keep hearing "How thoughtless, they did this after that flight to the coast." Whatever.

No matter how the Mets did this, the media would've found a way to bash it. I bet, though, that if the Mets had announced this right after the game (around 1AM New York time), we wouldn't be seeing nearly as much vitriol as we are right now. Why? Because the NY media would've had their 2nd grade reading level drivel typed and printed for the morning papers.

If the Mets had fired Randolph after last season, the New York media's refrain would've been that he was made the scapegoat, the players failed him. The firing was unjust.

If the Mets had fired Randolph after the meeting around Memorial Day, they would've been bashed for not giving him time to turn it around.

If the Mets had fired Randolph on Sunday, they would've been lambasted as anti-dad because it was father's day.

If the Mets had fired Randolph right after the game, they would've been ridiculed for not giving him any time to gather himself before facing the media.

It was the New York media who said that this situation was eating at Randolph, and distracting the players. It was the New York media WHO SAID YESTERDAY that the Mets should either make an immediate decision or come out and announce that Randolph was being given the rest of the season. Well, they made that immediate decision and now all this. To borrow from John Lennon, it's as if the Wilpons have come out and declared that the Mets are more popular than Jesus.

What has really happened here? A millionaire who was given a chance to manage his favorite team has been fired. He had to make a trip to the west coast for the news, but one can argue that it was better for him. Would he have been happier if this happened at Shea, which would've meant an immediate release to the wolves? Did he want it to happen in New York so the media could follow him and surround his home? I don't think he did.

Willie Randolph is a genuinely nice man. He cared, he has impeccable character. Unfortunately, he was never very good at managing. He was never very good at dealing with the media. While he was under the microscope, he made some unfortunate remarks that accused people around the Mets of being racist (The Mets are racist, the same team that is naming their rotunda after Jackie Robinson). I don't know how I missed that one. He accused SNY of making him into his own star of "The Real World: Flushing," by only filming him when he was lifeless or angry. Did I mention he was never very good at managing? It was time for him to go. Again, the timing wasn't the greatest, but what is a good time to get fired? When is it ever fun?

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