Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
But the amateurish nature of the firing – around midnight out on the West Coast after a 9-6 Mets win over the Angels – won’t soon be forgotten by Mets fans and critics alike. It’s hard to believe that Fred Wilpon, who seemed to have a clue and who went to high school in Brooklyn with the great Sandy Koufax, would allow this, let alone sanction it. But it really is amateur hour in Queens – Jeff Wilpon is on his way to becoming James Dolan (that should make Mets fans quiver with fear), Omar Minaya often seems to have brain lock as he’s trying to sidestep legitimate questions about the Mets, and the whole team, with a $140 million payroll, seems to have forgotten how to play the game.
You know the old adage – you can’t fire all of the players so the manager has to go. And you can bet that Minaya is looking over his shoulder because he’s next if Jerry Manuel (Willie Randolph II, maybe?) can’t turn things around. Did Randolph elect to go down with the ship when Minaya wanted to fire a couple of his coaches? Well, that could be what happened, although it remains to be seen if that info will get out. Could Willie have stayed if he allowed the sacrifice of pitching coach Rick Peterson and first-base coach Tom Nieto (what exactly did he do wrong?) or did he say if they’re going I’m going, too? That remains to be seen.
But what we never saw was Jose Reyes (have those comparisons to Derek Jeter stopped yet?) bust it on every play. What we never saw was Carlos Delgado make much of an effort to field balls near him at first. What we never saw was any consistency from the talented Oliver Perez (what happened there, Rick Peterson?). What we never saw was the Human Disabled List, Moises Alou, stay off the disabled list. Willie Randolph couldn’t go out and do these things for these players. A star and multiple World Series champion as a player and coach, Willie was and is a classy guy who simply couldn’t get the message across to these guys. How will Jerry Manuel be different?
Nobody said that Willie Randolph was Casey Stengel. Nobody said that Willie Randolph was Billy Martin. But you don’t have to be a brilliant X’s and O’s guy or a fiery (outwardly, to satisfy the fans and media?) manager to lead a team to a World Series. Remember, nobody accused Joe Torre of either when he came to the Yankees in 1996. And, frankly, everybody questioned Torre’s moves more and more after first, Don Zimmer, and then, Mel Stottlemyre, left the Yankees because of George Steinbrenner. But Torre had the four rings in the bank as Yankee manager, something Willie never had as Met manager.
IT’S THE SCHEDULE, STUPID
Take a good look at the timing of the firing – not the bush-league midnight (3 a.m. in New York – what, the Mets thought they wouldn’t get hammered as much if they did it at 3 a.m.? – Of course, they’ll get hammered more for that) firing but the timing of their schedule. After two more against the Angels, the Mets play six as easy as you can get games: three each against woeful Colorado (28-42) and more woeful Seattle (24-46). You can bet that Minaya considered this because it will be very hard for Manuel to get off to a bad start with this kind of schedule. Conversely, if he let Willie manage the next eight games, there would be a good chance that he and the Mets would go on a “hot” streak, caused, of course, by the weak schedule. After that, however, four against the Yankees, including one of those make-up day-night doubleheaders in New York. Very interesting, no?
Could the Mets have fired Willie after last year’s historical collapse? You betcha. Credit to them for giving Willie the chance to come back this year. Could he have righted the ship this year? Well, we’ll never know the answer to that now.
It’s not so much that the Mets did it. Of course, it’s the way they did it. Amateur hour is alive and well in Queens and, with the departure of Willie Randolph, most of the class in the organization has left the building.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.