The last time Willie Randolph wore a Mets jersey and actually had something to do with the physical outcome of the game, Eddie Murray was his first baseman, Vince Coleman patrolled center field and Gary Templeton was his double-play partner. Heck, even if I'm wrong on identifying some of his former Mets teammates, one thing is certain: he is far removed from fielding groundballs, hitting in the clutch, driving in crucial runs in scoring position and giving a quality start on the mound. Those responsibilities lie in the hands of John Maine, Oliver Perez, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado to name a few. All of these guys (not Randolph) are responsible for what happened last year, and consequently what is going on now. That is why he wasn't fired yesterday; and for good reason.
Should he be blamed for the regular meltdowns suffered by the bullpen? Nope. When your starting pitching with the exception of Johan Santana routinely gives you 5-6 innings; and throws 100+ pitches in the process, your bullpen will run the risk of getting worn out. I didn't realize it was Willie Randolph's fault that Oliver Perez seemingly 'spazzes out' once he reaches the 5th inning of every start and that Mike Pelfrey can't seem to find the strike zone with a 4-seam fastball. Should he be blamed for runners in scoring position not scoring? Nope. When you have runners at second and third with one out, how in the world is it Randolph's fault when Carlos Delgado has a bat in his hand and he strikes out and Brian Schneider follows him with an inning ending groundout to first? Where are the knowledgeable baseball fans who understand that it's the player's responsibility to earn their money and play the game with passion; and the manager's duty to make the most out of a team he is given by the ownership and general manager?
You see, when the Yankees were winning their championships, Joe Torre (whose demeanor is eerily similar to Randolph's...how ironic) was praised and ultimately reached the level in some fans' eyes as a hall of fame-caliber manager. When the Yankees started off slow last season however, most fans called for his head too...that is until the Yankees went on a winning streak and stormed into the playoffs. I'm not saying that the Mets will do the same, though I hope they do; what I am saying though is that I am growing sick and tired of the less than educated baseball fans....and media types (Mike and the Mad Dog included), who coincidentally look like bandwagon Mets fans. When the Mets were terrible in the 90's, where were the Mets fans, and why weren't they calling for the jobs of Jeff Torborg and Dallas Green? I wonder if its because they aren't aware of the fact that these two guys even managed the team?
The Mets are relevant now, and all of a sudden, everyone has an opinion. I wonder if we performed to the best of our ability with the resources we had on our jobs if the outsiders who though otherwise would be privy to call for our jobs? Why, I sure wouldn't take too kindly to it. No one knows what it takes to do the job that Willie is doing better than Willie himself. I dare any reader of this entry to challenge me on that one. Unless you have managed a professional sports team in a major sports market like New York, you have absolutely no clue; so instead of calling for the man's job and questioning every move he makes, be a real fan and follow the team whether they perform poorly or not. That's what a fan is anyway, right? A fanatic. If not, follow the Yankees. They're supposedly the better team in the city. Last I checked they were in last place. The Mets are two games under .500 and 6 games out of first. We haven't even reached the All-Star break, and all of a sudden it's doom and gloom.
Real baseball fans and people who have played the game at least until college will tell you that baseball is a game of streaks and that it will humble you. You can be hot one week, and totally bomb another. All the drive time alarmists and hype-driven bloggers out there probably wouldn't understand that though. Carlos Beltran was asked if he thought Willie should have been fired. He said that it wasn't his decision to make....and it isn't! His job is to play centerfield, not decide who manages or not. The media (as assinine as they are...ESPN included) takes his response to mean that he's not supportive of Willie Randolph. What, because he didn't come out and say that he 'loves' playing for Willie Randolph means that he isn't supportive? Fans, stop feeding into the media innuendo. We're smarter than that! The media knows that fans feed on their words because they're supposed to be the experts and have the inside scoop. That's not what he said. David Wright said that it's not Willie's job to win ballgames. Carlos Delgado was even turned off by the ignorant questioning of the media (he was asked a similar question to Beltran's). Be supportive of the team. The Mets are talented; and yes the ownership raised ticket prices, but still, what happened to being fans of the second place team in New York? That's what the Mets were before 2005. That's what they were in 2000 when they lost the World Series to their crosstown neighbors. That's what they were in the 1990's; and even when Steve Phillips (an ESPN homer) and Jim Duquette ran the team. Remember the Scott Kazmir/Victor Zambrano trade? That's something to be upset about....not a team that's still in the thick of a division race that no one is going to run away with.
I've followed the Mets since I was a third grader. If I remember correctly, they were horrible then. I was laughed at for even following them. Now, they've come one game short of the World Series; and missed the division title and playoffs by one game and all of a sudden everyone cares. Give me a break! Willie, on behalf of all the real Mets fans, those who have a clue...you have my support. I can't relate to what you're going through as a manager of this team, but I'm still a Mets fan, so I'll be rooting for you! Let's Go, Mets!!!