June 27, 2008

Something reeks of scapegoat

A mid-June 4thebirds post from another network:

When the New York Mets hit St. Louis for a four-game set, starting on the last day of this month and continuing into the first days of July, former manager Willie Randolph won't be at the helm.
Randolph and two other coaches were fired somewhere around midnight by the Mets organization. Interim replacements will cover their next west coast games.

For the last month, rumors have been flying about the potential heave-ho, the Mets not performing nearly as well as expected after a successful run two seasons ago. That Randolph was fired was not surprising, although many feel the problem with the Mets was not his fault. Reportedly, if the Mets didn't win, and win immediately, Randolph would be let go.

But this scenario, Randolph handed his walking papers, is a chance for baseball fans to see how higher-echelon staff sometimes operates, and it can be quite cutthroat, harsh, and can reek of scapegoat techniques. Or, the move to eliminate Randolph can be seen as appropriate baseball management in action. Only the fans can decided how they feel about such a circumstance.

Questionable aspects of the Randolph firing:

* Not only did the Mets win, giving Randolph a sort of "dugout sanctuary," but who would want to play the ogre, firing a man on Father's Day. That would put the "hook man" in same infamous category as the Grinch.

* That Randolph was fired during the midnight hour was no mistake. There just isn't much press around to record reaction that might put those responsible for the firing in a bad light.

* Coast to coast actions like this distance a lot of the negativity, the loyal local fans pretty much cut off from demonstration and immediate media comment. Can't hear the gripes of the pro-Randolph fans if they're all the way on the other side of the country.

* If insulting Randolph was part of the plan, waiting to fire him until he had traveled a few thousand miles and just started a series would certainly grind the man.

* Firing Randolph even though they'd last night's game, and most of their recent games, heightens the suspicion that the timing of this firing may have been rushed in panic. Think about this one, fans, because a lot can get lost in translation. While everyone is saying, "They fired Willie, and after they won, too," you have to ask yourself why? Why now? When the Mets were winning? Answer: if you had intended on firing the man anyway, for whatever reason, you had better do it before the team gets hot and wins even more, because if that happens, you will draw exponentially more ire from the fans. Not only would you look like a fool, you would look very mean-spirited, penalizing a man for doing well, which might point out that the firing was more of a personal issue than simply wins and losses.

* Something does smell funky here, and the fact that the odor is sifting from baseball ownership in New York makes the smell very familiar.

Given all these suspicions, one has to also admit that the firing could be construed as appropriate. After all, in baseball, it is not uncommon for the boss to get the axe when the team fails, even if it isn't his fault. But what seems to have a lot of fans riled about the Randolph scenario, is that between the lines of organizational double-talk, there seems to have run some type of plot, a witch hunting scenario, and regardless of the Mets' true problems, whatever they may be, making Randolph the scapegoat is not only underhanded, but could worsen the Mets situation. Of course, there's not too many places to go for that team but up, but we'll let the Monday morning folks glom onto that one.

Cardinals fans will still get to see the Mets in St. Louis, but are now cheated out of getting to see the manager that was responsible for much of their success, as well as a one-time great ballplayer. And in St. Louis, fans appreciate great games, great plays, great ballplayers, great effort, no matter who is the deserving party.

Willie Randolph got fired. Okay, it's baseball, it happens, but it's not so much that the Mets' ownership did it, as it is how they did it. And the way they did it might just point to the underlying problem within the Mets' organization.