Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Why can't I root for a team that just does things the normal way?

We can go back and forth arguing about whether or not Willie Randolph deserved to be fired - but the truth is the Mets were expected to be on top of the division by now, and they're only better than the Nationals; they should have won the division last year, and they collapsed; and your 1A star player isn't responding to the manager - it makes sense that Randolph was on thin ice.

But I think we can all agree that this was the stupidest way to fire someone in the history of professional sports. My belief (and Omar Minaya will talk later today, so maybe there will be more answers then, but I doubt it) is that the Mets were getting dangerously close to getting back to .500 (they're 34-35 right now), and the timing was getting worse. So the Mets had to fire Randolph after a win over the AL West-leading Angels. In the middle of the night. Just ridiculous.

A quick recap of the Randolph years:

2005 - A season of "seeing what we have". It was a bridge season - Mike Piazza's final year in a Mets uniform, the first for Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez*. Record: 83-79

2006 - Everything Randolph did worked out. The Mets got to Game 7 of the NLCS, but lost to a team they were better than. Record: 97-65.

2007 - Expectations were sky-high. The Mets got off to a fast start, but suffered a historic collapse in September to miss the playoffs. Blame can go all around, but that shouldn't make the manager exempt. Record: 88-74.

2008 - The Mets never got off the ground. Again, it's not all Randolph's fault, but someone has to take the fall. The Mets are classy enough to allow Randolph to earn a 34th win on the season before giving him the ax 3,000 miles from home. Record: 34-35

So where do the Mets go from here? I neglected to mention pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto are also gone. Jerry Manuel takes over as interim manager, and Ken Oberkfell and Dan Warthen come up to the Mets from Triple-A New Orleans. Warthen will most likely be pitching coach - I know very little about him. Luis Aguayo also joins the major league team from the minors.

Manuel has shown the fire for Willie throughout their time together. In the situations when Mets fans wanted some emotion from Randolph, it's been Manuel who has provided it. Manuel must have the respect of the players, otherwise it would have been foolish for the Mets to keep him (although, some might say it's foolish to fire a manager at 3:15am...but what do I know). I'm surprised the Mets didn't turn over the entire staff, to be honest.

I can't predict what will happen the rest of the way for the Mets. What I will say is that they make it very hard to root for them to recover from this disaster. Does the Mets turning it around and having a successful end to the season legitimize the managerial move in the middle of the night? I don't know that I want to find out. I like Jerry Manuel, but I also like Willie Randolph. I might feel a bit satisfied by the Mets continuing to play uninspired ball under a different leader, and maybe start fresh next year....though it pains me to think of that - it's a long time away.

This is probably the most significant Mets move in the history of 200 Miles From the Citi. The blog was born in April of 2004, in the midst of the Art Howe era (and by era I mean "two seasons"). Basically, Willie Randolph is all this blog has known. My feelings on Randolph started out as excitement and enthusiasm for a fresh face in the Mets dugout. They quickly turned to expectation, as the Mets showed such promise in 2006, and then disappointment when that feat wasn't repeated, and in fact, everything got much worse. And finally, frustration and a need for change, because it seemed like the Mets were going nowhere fast under Randolph. I think that's an accurate representation of the feelings of most Mets fans.

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