Willie Randolph is out as manager of the New York Mets, fired in the middle of the night 2 1/2 months into a disappointing season that has followed the team’s colossal collapse last September . . . Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto also were dismissed in an enormous overhaul that was revealed in a fact-of-the-matter Mets news release at a stunning time—about 12:15 a.m. PDT, nearly two hours after New York’s 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.If it wasn't for SNY's bothersome independent streak, I would have expected to see the network showing several straight hours of opera today like Soviet television used to do whenever bad news happened.
It's amazing, isn't it? A manager as deserving of being fired as Willie Randolph finally gets fired and I actually have sympathy for the guy because of just how poorly the team handled the entire process. It drags out forever. They let him and the coaches fly out west despite the fact that everyone knows they're dead men walking. They let them work one last game -- a win, no less -- and make all of the players give quotes to the papers one more time about the whole uncomfortable scenario, which you just know they love. Then they're fired in a casual press release after 3AM Eastern.
Thinking about it, my guess is that the timing represents some misguided effort by Mets' brass to try and draw the sting of all of this by putting the news out there after the Post and the Daily News go to press. As if they won't still get hammered. This is the city that doesn't sleep, remember?
UPDATE: Richard Dansky has a particularly pithy assessment of all of this over at Sportsthodoxy:
3:15 is when the secret police come pounding on the door, the dogs barking to let you know there's no way out. It's when the phone rings and it's always real bad news, the call coming from a hospital or the side of the road. It's when cheating lovers try to sneak in the back door, listening for floorboard creaks as they make their way in dread to the darkened stairs.That's really the part that gets me out of all of this. The Mets obviously waited until the beat guys filed their game stories and went back to their hotels after the Angels game and, presumably, waited until the hard copy editions of the New York tabloids hit the printing press. Now they've scheduled the press conference for 5PM, which is after the talk shows prep and go live. They did all of this, it seems, because they believed that it would somehow minimize coverage. As if the papers and the radio are the only way news gets out.
It's not when you fire the manager of a baseball team, particularly not a team that just flew out west, just won its game, just went through yet another round of "is the manager going to get fired?" questions. If the Mets thought they could downplay the whole thing by waiting until the team was out of New York and most WFAN listeners were asleep before lowering the boom on Willie Randolph, well, that's the sort of thinking that would have worked in 1974. These days, not so much.
Of course (a) the bloggers, while not nearly as widely read and heard as the traditional outlets, are going to be twice as shrill as they try to fill the void; and (b) Once they catch up (and they will catch up quickly because they have online outlets too, you know) the print and radio people are going to level about five times as much artillery at the Mets due to the shoddy way in which this was all handled.
If the Mets had simply fired Randolph after the Texas series this would have been a Monday-only story focusing on Randolph, and right now we'd be talking about how the team is responding to the change. Because of the awful way in which this was all handled, however, it will go on an on, and much more attention will be focused on Minaya and ownership. If someone catches a photo of Randolph and his coaches trying to book a commercial flight back home this morning it will be even worse (please, somebody get to the airport and catch a photo of Randolph and his coaches trying to book a commerical flight!).
So again, Mets' management, I laud you on your deft planning and execution.