By Joyce Mandelkern
I hate drama. It is not enough that my Mets play bad baseball, now they give me drama on top of playing bad baseball. They are determined to make me miserable. The good news is, at least they are succeeding at something.
If you have been reading my posts on a regular basis since last season, then you are aware of the fact that I have never been a Willie person. However, up until this point,. it was based on his actual in-game strategy (or lack thereof) and the fact that I felt he was too American League to manage a National League team. I just didn't think it was a good match. I felt that the Wilpons handed a team that was ready to win, to a manager that wasn't ready to manage. And I admit, the whole Yankee thing bothered me a little bit too. I thought he was too laid back when the team needed a kick in the butt (last season) and didn't have his players backs' with the umps when appropriate. I thought he was too tough on the young players and not tough enough on the veterans - or at the very least, should be equally tough on everyone when it comes to not hustling and sins of that nature. And although I didn't think Willie was a great manager, I always thought he was probably a terrific person and if I knew him, he would have my respect. And to be clear, I was not one of the people calling for him to be fired after last year's debacle. I believe in second chances, and I suppose in this case, some of you might think he got a third chance after getting the team to the 2006 NLCS and not to the WS.
Anyway, what has really gotten me upset at this point, is the media frenzy and distraction he has created by his comments to the Bergen Record and other members of the media. I am just so disappointed in him on so many levels. And yes, I'm taking this personally. One of things he mentioned in his comments is that he brought the Mets fans back to rooting for the team (I'm paraphrasing). Let me tell you something, Willie. I never left. I've been around a lot longer than you have. I've spent my money, my time and my tears on this team and stuck with them through the good, the bad, and the ugly, while you were in the Bronx, so don't tell me I abandoned this team and that you brought me back! I watched every pitch of every game whether we were 30 games under .500 or over .500, which is why I can tell whether or not you are doing a good job or a bad one. Please don't question my loyalty. And another thing Willie, if you had some of the players these other managers had, you wouldn't have gotten them to the playoffs in 2006, so maybe you should rethink that a little bit. You were given the gift of a talented team. And just for the record, Bobby V did a lot more with a lot less.
And then to make matters worse, he had to play the race card. I don't care if you are polka-dotted, I just want this team to play well and with heart and have a shot at winning. I am sure there are still people out there (unfortunately) who see color, but I think the majority of sports fans in New York are interested in one thing and one thing only - WINNING. I have never walked a mile in Willie's shoes, but I have experience prejudiced myself, and I understand the intensity of it, but I do not, for one minute believe that in this case, that is why Willie's job may be jeopardy.
He has trashed SNY for the way they portray him in the dugout. Here is a hint, Willie. It is never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you. He believes he is often misunderstood, misquoted, and misrepresented. He believes people are "messing" with his livelihood. I have news for you, Willie, the entire working world gets judged by their superiors and if they don't produce they way they are paid to, they get fired. You are privileged to have the job you have, and get paid quite well to do it. Very few people are in your position, so when you complain about it, it really doesn't go over well with John Q. Public. I could go on and on with his comments and examples but it all amounts to the same result. The bottom line is that there is a major disconnect between Willie, the fans, and the media. I must conclude that he is not a good communicator. I can only hope that he does better with his players, but it seems doubtful.
Willie seems to be overly sensitive, paranoid, ornery, and distracted. None of these are traits that serves a manager in New York well. Very odd for a guy that grew up here and played here. They say New Yorkers are tough and thick-skinned and we let things roll off our shoulders, yet clearly this is not the case. The media has gotten a hold of this and won't let it go and I don't blame them. It is bugging the heck out of me. On the heels of the clubhouse meltdown and team meeting, and losing to the Nats and the Braves, there is no end in sight. The Yankee wins were a mere mirage, like so many other 2 game spurts. No team head shaving activity is going to fix this mess and give this team the impetus it needs to make that elusive run.
In some cases I might say that a team might rally around a manager. I know Brian Schneider on the WFAN said they all like Willie and support him. Is that the party line? What is he to say publicly? My gut tells me he is not a players' manager. So if they don't circle the wagons, the other alternative is they might fall completely apart. Watching the two games against Atlanta yesterday, that seems to be the case. They were just flat. Except of course, Ryan Church. I wish this team had 8 other starters who played with his heart.
I wish I could've just written a post today about how silly it was to have Marlon Anderson batting in the two hole, or even the fact that he was getting a start over Endy, again. Or how the offense has once again gone on hiatus. But what difference could it possibly make? We have a much bigger issue that is getting bigger and bigger and about to explode. It needs to be addressed and quickly. I often say to Pete that I could do just as bad a job as Willie for a lot less money. I'm kidding, of course. I think. But I do think things have gotten out of control at this point. Of course if they were winning things would be different, but they're not. And you can't convince me that this isn't at least a major part of the reason why. And that respect thing I had for Willie as a person, not so much.