Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hope Dies Last

In the midst of processing the 3AM Massacre Tuesday morning, my hastily thrown-up post might have seemed a bit too sympathetic towards Willie Randolph. That's not to say that Willie isn't deserving of sympathy. Lord knows I've been raking him over the coals for the past however long it was. But, as has been the feeling echoing through Metsdom over the past 20 or so hours, only the Mets could manage to fuck up a move that needed to be made.

I don't know what exactly transpired in that postgame meeting with Willie and Omar, although suffice it to say that it doesn't matter at this point. The situation was too far out of hand to play out any different than it did. There was, in reality, no logical reason to maintain Willie as Manager. But why, then, at this particular moment? Why, after flying cross country and winning? Why, if Peterson, clearly an organizational guy and not one of Willie's guys was fired, was Ho-Jo maintained, particularly when the offense has been an equal, if not a far greater, problem with this team than the pitching. There are many questions on this night that is vastly different from all other nights. Most of them probably won't be answered. That, perhaps, is what is most maddening about this whole saga.

I'm not going to do an about face and defend Willie at all. There's nothing to defend. When a change needs to be made, you look to the top, but, much the same way that Art Howe got a raw deal, Willie got a raw deal. I've mentioned that before as well. It's not necessarily his fault that he was given a team built to win now two years ago. And it's not his fault that when the flaws of the team began to show themselves in repeated fashion, very little was done to fix it. But with that said, Willie's moves often left a lot to be questioned. From Kaz Ishii's 16 starts, to Cliff Floyd, to Schoeneweis and Feliciano, to Philip Humber, to Mike Pelfrey and Wagner. But such is the peril of being a Big League manager operating in a Media vacuum that seems hell bent on imposing their will on whomever will listen.

It doesn't help, then, that the Mets, at the top, seem all too willing to read and absorb what is said about their team. It also doesn't help that someone within the Mets organization, with a cool ear to the inner machinations, is also the owner of lips far too loose for his or her own good. It's one thing to have this go on in silence. Once it becomes public knowledge, once the Media gets a hold of it, there's no stopping the firestorm as it gains power and blazes out of control.

So, then, we are led to Tuesday, June 17, 2008. One of those days that could live up there with June 15, 1977, October 20, 1999 and October 19, 2006 as days that will live in Met Infamy. In his press conference, which I didn't see and only read about much later in the day, Omar was all too willing to point his finger at the press. He's right to do so, but then again, the onus is now clearly on him for the remainder of the season. If Fabulous Freddie and Ruprecht the Idiot Manchild are conscious at this point, and not polishing off their second bottle of Black Label, they'd say something and make this clear. But we don't hear anything out of them.

It's funny, because it seems like it's always been this way with Fred. On the Bonus Disc of the 1986 World Series box set, there's an interview with Wilpon on the podium. It was Wilpon who cajoled Nelson Doubleday into providing him the muscle with which to purchase the team in the first place. Yet, here he is, at the pinnacle of his reign as owner, referring to the team, his team, as "Frank Cashen and his Mets team." Not "our team." Their team. As though he's somehow detached from all this, save for signing the checks. Perhaps he prefers to shrink from the spotlight. That's one thing. But to provide us with an air of seeming disinterested, or uninvolved, particularly when things are spiraling out of control, and leaving his Houseboy in charge to his personal interests, which appear to be an A-Ball team and a new Stadium, is right on the border of complete and total insanity. I guess my point is that the owner of a team should care about what's going on with his team, right? I'm not seeing that out of Right Said Fred.

I'd like to see Omar get his head spun a little bit here. He seems awfully comfortable right now. Again, he's made the necessary move in a rather ass-backwards fashion. He's built a team that consists of two young stars, two outstanding veterans who are signed to insanely large contracts, and a horrendous cadre of Has-beens and never-will-bes. Last year, he dismissed the hitting coach, and replaced him with a hitting coach who has managed to fix absolutely none of the existing offensive problems, and has even served to create new problems where none existed in the first place! And yet, when Omar has decided to cut off the head and hack the limbs, HE LET THIS GUY KEEP HIS JOB!

I refused to listen to Mike & The Mad Dog Tuesday. I wasn't particularly in the mood to listen to those jokers cackling away about what an absolute joke the Mets allowed this situation to become. I avoided it most of the day, aside from a few comments here and there, and a call from my co-worker, out of the office for the day. I missed the early part of the game, but it seems that Jerry Manuel only needed about 5 or so minutes to attain his first controversy, with Jose Reyes at first, stomping off and throwing his helmet after being removed from the game. Manuel, apparently, then spent the better part of the inning lecturing Reyes on growing up. Reyes sounded mostly contrite after the game, which I suppose is a plus. On the field, blah, blah, blah. The games are still scenery, and everyone seemed to be in a fog after this truly bizarre day in what has been a complete train wreck of a season. I know the right move was made. I know it wasn't made well. I also don't know if it's going to make anything better.

I guess there's still hope, right? Hope dies last.

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