Sunday, June 22, 2008

Notes in a Minaya Key

It has been suggested elsewhere, most notably at ESPN.com by Rob Neyer, that Willie Randolph got his dead fish wrapped in newspaper at 12:15 local time, fairly standard for a post-night-game whacking. This, then, is putative proof that the fact that it hit the East Coast after everyone except infomercial fans had gone to bed is not evidence that the Mets weren't trying to get cute with things.

To quote the late Graham Chapman, that's as may be but it's still a frog.

at best, this argument suggests that the firing was a hastily thought out panic move. Surely an organization in the New York market should be aware of the perception certain to surround a 3:15 AM pink slip. Even if that wasn't the intention, the PR director should have been able to say "Whoah, guys, this is going to look bad. Can we wait until morning?" The fact that they didn't means that either the PR guys weren't consulted or they were overruled on their own turf, which just makes this look even more like management-by-overreactive-spasm.

Look, willie Randolph should never have been allowed to get on that plane with his job intact. If they knew they were going to fire him, they could have shown the grace of doing so before the trip started, saving him the aggravation and embarrassment. If they weren't going to fire him, what the hell could possibly have happened in that first game - a game that the Mets won, remember - to change Omar's decision?

Besides, it was a road trip, it was the West Coast - a great time and place to make a clean break and let the interim guy get a running start. But they bungled that, too, fumbling away any advantage that could have been wrung out of the situation. Ultimately, all the way this was handled did was reinforce the image of Mets-as-bumblers, and make the stone-faced Willie Randolph a sympathetic figure - surely not what was intended.

So, I'll cut Omar slack on the 3:15 thing, but not on the rest of it. Any way you slice it, the way the firing was handled stinks. You just don't handle your people that way, not if you want to continue to attract good people. You don't deliberately bring controversy onto your organization, you don't put yourself in a position where you look worse than you need to, and you don't put the organization on the hook for the ridiculous fees that come with changing transcontinental plane tickets on short notice. The best thing Minaya and the Mets can do now is admit that they bungled it and move on. The second best thing they can do is to get the hell out of Jerry Manuel's way for the rest of the season while avoiding the temptation to trade Fernando Martinez for a quick fix.
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