I hate Mets fans. Always have. I grew up a Yankees fan in North Jersey in the 1980s, and my best friend Dave always bragged about the Mets' big world championship in '86 as if it was the second coming of Yahweh. I had to suffer ten years until 1996 before I could feel that same joy, and you better believe I've spent the last twelve years shaming Dave as much as possible. But when Yankees bench coach Willie Randolph finally got his chance to manage a big league club, I regretted the fact that he'd lead my favorite team's crosstown rival, those hated New York Mets.
After 11 seasons as a coach for the Yanks, and exactly zero seasons managing any team at any level, Randolph got the job as Mets manager for the 2005 season. Quick career summary for Willie:
- 2005: 83-79, 3rd place, first winning record for the Mets in 4 years
- 2006: 97-64, 1st place, heartbreak loss to Cardinals in the NLCS
- 2007: 88-74, 2nd place, historic collapse gives division to Phillies
- 2008: 23-26, 4th place, 6.5 games behind Marlins on Memorial Day
Okay, the Mets missed the World Series by one game in '06 and missed the playoffs by one game in '07. Theywerethisclose to greatness in both years. There are two schools of thought on this: (1) Randolph should be lauded for the team's winning records and it was just bad luck that they missed the ultimate success by a hair or (2) Randolph was hired to influence the talent on the team and make vital managerial moves that would put the Mets over the top. If you subscribe to (1), then you are willing to forgive the past two years' shortcomings and wait out the 2008 season. If you are like certain Mets fans and Mets bloggers and you subscribe to (2), you are Salome calling for his head on a charger.
I'm really not sure which school of thought I subscribe to. I don't know enough about the game of baseball to comment on what goes on in the clubhouse or dugout or in the hearts of baseball players. I also don't know shit about psychology or team-building exercises or coaxing the best performance out of millionaire athletes, so I'm not going to opine about Willie Randolph's job future right now. He seems like a nice guy and he lives not too far from me, so I might run into him at the grocery store one day. Friendliness aside, though, I just don't know enough about managing a baseball team to
I do, however, have enough information in front of me to disparage the Mets GM, Omar Minaya. He's put together a team like an idiot contractor puts together a house: with chewing gum and cardboard tubes with a foundation of maple sugar oatmeal. With the Mets, fading superstar Pedro Martinez is the chewing gum, oft-injured Moises Alou and Marlon Anderson are the cardboard tubes, and overrated-yet-underperforming Jose Reyes is the gooey oatmeal foundation. This house will not stand. After trading away four of their best seven prospects in the Johan Santana trade, the farm system is in shambles too.
Maybe Minaya should be fired too. Either way, this is a money-making corporation that is putting up a beautiful new ballpark next year; they're not going to draw 4 million fans like the Yankees so the organization needs all the wins they can get. And maybe my buddy Dave will be happy again.