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Article:Mets Fire Randolph, Shabbily

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2006-08-17-randolph
I first heard the Willie news  at around 7 on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike Show, except there was only one Mike this morning as usual. We all knew Randolph was on the proverbial hot seat. But why would you fire a manager on the first day of a West Coast road trip? And after a win? It got me to thinking: What's the corollary to this in the real, non-sports world? Is there one? Maybe going on a week-long business trip with your colleagues and then getting the bad news on the first night as you're settling into your hotel room and thinking about ordering room service. Perhaps. Bill Madden came on and he had no trouble blasting the Mets, I believe the words disgraceful, undignified and cowardly were peppered liberally into the conversation.

As we "speak" Omay Mineya is now getting grilled on the Mike & The Mad Dog Show, and rightly so as he tries to defend the indefensible.

Along with Willie, pitching coach/gury Rick Peterson and 1B coach Tom Nieto were also unceremoniously sacked. Jerry Manuel takes over. Thank god they kept 3B coach Sandy Alomar. You don't wanna lose baseball talent like that.

This morning Madden dished that it's Jeff Wilpon who has it in for Willie, along with assistant GM Tony Bernazard. The former resented Willie holding out for more $$$ on his last contract, the former reportedly was undermining Randolph's standing with the players, especially those of a Latin persuasion, which let's face it is most of them.

Willie, helped by an infusion of cash into the payroll and an influx of talent onto a roster that lost 91 games under Art Howe in 2004, led the Metsies to baseball's best record just two years later, taking them to within one game of the World Series.

What sucks about this is not only the shabby way Willie and the coaches were terminated, but the fact that Mets management was swayed in their decision-making by the fans who had turned on Randolph, voicing their displeasure with loud boos at the ballpark as well as through calls to the sports talk radio shows on the team's flagship station. What's good about it is all the negative pub over at Shea; let's see the Mets play through this kind of monumental distraction the way Yankees teams have had to since just about forever.

Madden, in his Daily News column today, said of the Randolph firing: "In the history of New York baseball, there has not been a more cowardly, indecent or ill-conceived firing of a manager." This in a town where as Madden knows Boss Steinbrenner fired Yankee legend Yogi Berra after 16 games in 1985 and where Dick Howser was fired after a 100+ win 1980 regular season but a first-round playoff ouster at the hands of the KC Royals.

Ironically Willie Randolph was at the center of that storm as well. As a player he was thrown out at home at a key moment in the series, and when Howser refused to fire 3B coach Mike Ferraro as a sacrifice to the mentally deranged Steinbrenner, he was sent packing. Howser landed on his feet as manager of those very Royals, though, and just 5 years later guided them to their only World Series title. I expect Willie to get at least one other shot, probably as soon as next year. Anyway, he's due a few million dollars from the Wilpons on the remaining year of his contract, so he doesn't have to take the first situation that comes along.

So the Mets hierarchy put their heads together and came up with firing Randolph & Co. in their Anaheim hotel rooms and then communicating the news by e-mail to Mets beat writers at 3:00 AM Nueva York time -- elevating incompetence to a new level and providing a neat little "How Not To" lesson in public relations management.

I thought Rick Peterson was a solid pitching coach. The Mets had the 4th best ERA in the National League -- how else exactly are you supposed to judge a pitching staff? He also seemed like a character, but I had no idea how much until I read his parting statement. As they say in the business, give me some of what this guy is smoking:

"Homes go through renovations, and sometimes you have to make changes when things don't to well, and I'm part of that change. I'm the hardwood floor that's getting ripped out, and they're going to bring in the Tuscany tile. It'll be great."

Great, Rick? C'mon! How about a little East Coast venom toward your old employer. But no. Instead he goes from This Old House to channeling that old Eastern League swami, the Dalai Llama. Peterson continues.

"I wear this bracelet because I'm very in tune with Eastern philosophy and universal law. The rings (on the bracelet) signify faith, compassion, equanimity and love. The Eastern language writes in symbols, and the symbol for crisis they also use for opportunity. I've been given a great opportunity here, and as I walk out that door, I seek my next stop. I walk out in peace. Hopefully the Tuscany tile will do a lot better than a hardwood floor."

I imagine a big gong being sounded, and Peterson in his trademark zippered-up windbreaker walking off into the California sunset or sunrise or whatever position the sun happens to be at. I mean, is this a pitching coach or Ricky Williams after a few bong hits? Just when I thought nobody could top Kobe Bryant's bizarre we-wet-the-bed postgame comments the other night for sheer head-scratchability, along comes Peterson and his Zen Yogi-ism.

Obviously it was all Tom Nieto's fault, just like Rick Down's before him. What's priceless is how Mike Lupica takes so many shots at the Yankees, yet it was the ownership team that he is so close to that perpetrated this disastrous PR nightmare that is sure to half a long, long shelf life, perhaps even an aisle of its own in the New York tabloid supermarket of the mind.


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