Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cowards in the Night

So the New York Mets have finally done what every one of the team's fans knew they would have to do, eventually: they fired manager Willie Randolph. But did they have to do it in such a cowardly way? To let the man fly 3,000 miles away to the West Coast, only to fire him after the game ended, was, as the NY Daily News put it, "a classless, cold-hearted and cowardly act."

It's apparent from the way it was handled that general manager Omar Minaya had decided -- that someone had decided -- to fire Willie days before the midnight hatchet job actually took place. Randolph actually asked Minaya on Sunday if he should bother taking the trip with the team to the West Coast, and was given a noncommittal answer that amounted to a firing right then.

But what I don't understand through all of this is, why isn't Tony Bernazard's job on the line? Supposedly a major issue in Randolph's relationship, or non-relationship, with the players was Bernazard's personal campaign against Randolph, making sure that each and every one of the organization's Hispanic players -- not only on the NY Mets, but even in the minor leagues -- had Bernazard's personal phone number so that they could contact him if they had any issues with the manager. So, naturally they felt that there was little need for them to pay any attention to Willie. Minaya, as the general manager, should have nipped that in the bud as soon as it became an issue. Personally, I think this is exactly the reason for Randolph's perceived lack of fire. If Bernazard and team COO Jeff Wilpon wanted Willie's head on a plate, what good would a display of fire really do in the long run? Bernazard is personally responsible for the sinkhole this team has fallen into, and because of that he should be bodily thrown into it. I feel a little bad about saying that, because I liked Bernazard as a player, but he's more trouble than he's worth in the front office. "Instigator" isn't a requirement of any major-league front-office job, at least not to my knowledge.

There was an article also in yesterday's NY Daily News that suggested that the Randolph saga provided the Mets' TV network, SportsNet NY, with riveting content even when the team was underperforming. It's natural to assume that Randolph's treatment had nothng to do with TV ratings, but then I remember reading that Ted Turner originally bought the Atlanta Braves in order to provide content for his then-newly-purchased WTBS television station. So who really knows...