Tuesday, June 17, 2008

3:15 AM

After an inappropriately long limbo period, during which and uncomfortable amount of loose talk and open speculation took place, Willie Randolph was awkwardly fired in the middle of the night. Classic Mets!
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?

Just pathetic.

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.

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.
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.

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.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I come here first for baseball updates every day. In case you don't know, ESPN's baseball page has no news about Willie being fired...

My 10 year old daughter's softball team is called the Mets. They're a typical mediocre youth league team. They pulled off a come from behind win last night and I jokingly said to the coach "Hey, Willie! Omar called! He said you're good for another game!"

Craig Calcaterra said...

ESPN doesn't have a 2 year-old boy that causes them to be awake as early as I am. ;-)

Jason said...

And the Mets organization wonders why it's viewed as the little (incompetent) brother in NY....

There's a way to do things and clearly the Mets never got the memo.

Michael said...

You hit it right on the head about the Mets trying to do this after the Post & News go to press.

Why schedule a 5 PM EST press conference? Because it doesn't give the talk radio time to rip on what they say (or don't say) during the conference- most people are on their way home at that time.

Then the blogs and newspaper websites won't have the viewers reading their responses as people have left work and are home getting on with their lives.

My questions...
1. Why not fire the hitting coach also (Howard Johnson)? Their offense is inconsistent.
2. Why not fire the strength coach/trainer because of the teams injuries? I am not counting Alou who really needs his own hospital.
3. Keep the 3rd base coach, Sandy Alomar? Why - same thing as HOJO.
4. It is 632 AM EST as I type this.. how about the Mets update their website:
http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/team/coaches.jsp?c_id=nym

My guess is that HOJO (who was not Randolph's hitting coach, Minaya put him their after firing Rick Down) was a "spy" (for lack of a better word) for Minaya.

If they wanted a fresh start, have Oberkfell manage and clean house.

Minaya is the new Teflon Don in my opinion. He puts together an old team, doesn't develop the farm system (this happened in both his GM jobs) and still is employed. Amazing.

Bring back Steve Phillips (just kidding)

Peter said...

I hope the Mets get raked over the coals for this one...should be fun to watch!

Dre said...

well Minaya could not have handled this situation any worse

riccardi said...

As a Mets fan I was looking forward to this situation being over and done with this past weekend. When they didn't make the move I began to consider how badly the Wilpons and Co. could screw this up. With all the stupid crap this team has pulled over the years, I don't know how I didn't see something this ridiculous coming. Like you said, I can't believe I feel bad for willie after watching him blankly stare at the field, mismanage his bullpen and consistently rely on inconsistent vets the past two seasons. What a mess.

Peter said...

dre, Olney's article over the weekend made it sound like it was the Wilpons who were driving this whole saga.

But I do agree that Minaya has, to an unbelievable degree thus far, skated.

Dre said...

thanks for the note Peter... I guess I should have said, the Mets org couldn't have handled it any worse

But now this begs the question, what is more asinine the Mets handling of Randolph or Steinbrenner bitching about the NL not using a DH. Maybe someone should send Hank a memo and tell him that the AL should start playing real baseball soon.

Ken Dynamo said...

shouldve fired omar. this is pathetic, and annoying. im already sick of hearing about this mess from my friends, i havent even started getting into media/bloggers' reactions.

as for the mets being the litter brother to the yankees - JASON - you telling me the steinbrenners are good at public relations? please, they are vastly more incompetent owners. they have just been lucky to have a good GM and lots of money. and lots more fans and WS rings. shit i am getting more depressed now.

themarksmith said...

The wilpons said that Minaya is the one who made the decision (ESPN's article). Now they're placing the blame on Minaya. Is he next? Preferably, the day after Labor day, but we'll make it 2:30 AM because the Wilpons need their beauty rest.

Jason said...

Just a quick question: will Johan see the playoffs as a Met more than the Twins will without him?

themarksmith said...

You know Craig, I don't think we gave enough credit to you for the whole time thing in your titles. We gave you a hard time for the 11:59 thing, but who know this whole thing would come down and the time would have been such a big part of it.

bigcatasroma said...

I HATE the Mets, and LOVE what's happening, but, to be fair . . .

3:15 IS EST, meaning it was 12:15 PST, probably after the game, they had their little meeting, decided to end the circus, called any media possible, gathered all the info, yada yada yada, and made the announcement, "forgetting" what time zone they were in or anything like that . . .

I mean, I'm grasping at straws here. This is ludicrous. And hysterically inept. And tremendous to watch unfold. If you're a Phillies fan. Like me. Perhaps, just perhaps, ineptitude has finally made it's way up the Turnpike . . .

bigcatasroma said...

I HATE the Mets, and LOVE what's happening, but, to be fair . . .

3:15 IS EST, meaning it was 12:15 PST, probably after the game, they had their little meeting, decided to end the circus, called any media possible, gathered all the info, yada yada yada, and made the announcement, "forgetting" what time zone they were in or anything like that . . .

I mean, I'm grasping at straws here. This is ludicrous. And hysterically inept. And tremendous to watch unfold. If you're a Phillies fan. Like me. Perhaps, just perhaps, ineptitude has finally made it's way up the Turnpike . . .

Craig Calcaterra said...

I suppose that would be the most charitable interpretations, bigcatsroma. Most of what I'm reading today, though, indicates that the decision had been made before the road trip started, and maybe as early as the end of last week.

What, if anything, happened between the end of Sunday's game and midnight PDT last night that pushed them over the edge? The Mets played well last night. They beat a good team.

I am prone to belieiving conspiracy theories, but I don't think you have to credit a conspiracy to say that the firing was timed to take best advantage of the East Coast sleep cycles.

Not that it matters, really.

dubbschism said...

the fact they fired him after two wins pretty much solidifies the theory that the decision was made late last week.

Daniel said...

I will not argue with anyone that this was mismanaged to the umpteenth degree. I will, however, put in that I think everyone is making too much of the time of day thing. Yes, it was 3:15 on the east coast, but they weren't on the east coast.

The game ended late last night (about 10:20 PDT), you figure an hour to an hour and a half in the locker room, cleaning up, talking to media, working out, etc. Then a half hour meeting or something with Omar, then the announcement. Other than the fact that he should have been fired weeks ago, Omar did the right thing by firing him last night rather than waiting until this morning. I'm sure Willie's not getting much sleep these days anyway, maybe this will actually be a load off his mind. Now you start the day fresh with a new manager.

Definitely mismanaged on the Mets part, but I don't think the timing is that big a deal. It sounds worse when you think of it as eastern time.

Osmodious said...

Nobody has really brought this up, but what about Jerry Manuel's involvement in this? It's a trifle odd how the firing line broke down...why not the 3rd base coach as well? What about the bullpen coach? Why does the bench coach skate?

According to other things I've read, like Neyer and (especially) Olney, there has been a ton of back-stabbing, in-fighting, 'he said' kind of stuff going on here. Isn't it possible that quiet, unassuming, Jerry Manuel is actually pretty good at the Machiavellian stuff?

Also...they may feel like they have fixed the tactical issue(s), but the strategic ones still remain. The largest of these is: how can any General Manager form and execute a long term strategy when there is this kind of dissent in the front office? If your own assistant, or other staff, is undermining you (and I think that telling tales to the media fits that description), how can you accomplish anything? How about when that is happening AND your ownership is also doing it?

If I were Omar Minaya, I'd start talking to the Mariners about their open position...

John Peterson said...

Craig, I like how you showed that the Mets' way of handling this is indicative of how out-of-date they are as an organization.