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Willie Freed; Manuel Labors

NostraDennisTuesday, June 17, 2008
By NostraDennis


Sports fans always need to guard against the dreaded schadenfreude, a word whose definition I didn't know until I started frequenting Mets blogs. It means enjoyment taken from the suffering of others. Watching Charlie Chaplin slip on a banana peel in a movie is a simple and innocuous example of this. Snickering when Chien Ming Wang injures himself stepping on home plate is a step further. Hoping that T#m Gl@v!ne enjoys a good long reunion with John Smoltz -- on the Braves' disabled list -- is getting into the area of karma-tempting schadenfreude. Any Mets fan who takes glee in Willie Randolph's dismissal should think long and hard.

As Joyce Mandelkern opined here recently, this move was long overdue, not because it was the right thing to do, but because the indecision hung over the team's head like a creaking guillotine. To me, this move should have been made last September if it should have been made at all. A manager's first priority and main job is to get 25 players' heads pointed in the same direction. Clearly, that mission was not accomplished, not at the end of last season, or at any pojnt in this one.

As my officemate Johnny Gunnz noted this morning, "Willie is free now," as if he'd just started moving towards the light after a long, lingering illness. That analogy fits real well. Willie will probably get his most rested night of sleep all year tonight, at least after he flies back home from the Left Coast. The same thing happened to a boss of mine during one of radio's consolidation periods in the early '90's. The big bosses flew him from New York out to Los Angeles, just so they could fire him. I guess axing him in person might have been more humane than a phone call or a fax, but that red-eye back home must have been the longest trip of his life. After his head hit the chopping-block floor, my then ex-boss declared, "I'm never working for someone else again". He went on to build a new radio group from scratch, and today, he's doing just fine. Willie will be fine, too. He'll get the inevitable call from ESPN, and by this time next year, he'll probably be at the helm of another ship in a less pressured market.

Jerry Manuel will be just fine, too. He's got a winning record as a manager, something the Mets could use right about now. He managed the 2000 White Sox to a division title, and led them to four second-place finishes in his six years at the helm there. Most important, he has the evident fire in his belly that Willie seemed to lack. If you're not a screamer, as Willie was not, you can't manufacture that. Manuel brings a vocal passion to this team that they'll need if they have any hope of busting out of the mediocrity they've been stuck in for the last thirteen months.

To paraphrase Dr. Phil on parenting skills, Randolph did the best he could with what he knew. If he knew better, he would have done better. I'm more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and trust that the losses and blown saves and failures he endured ate away at him even more than they ate away at the most zealous of Mets fans. Like it says in every company memo about their latest ex-employee, I wish Willie Randolph good fortune in his future endeavors. I wish Jerry Manuel much more good fortune than that.

About Dennis McCarthy: I was born in the Bronx in 1960, but moved to Long Island four years later. I became a Mets fan in '69, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who still lived in the Bronx.   Read More -->

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Comments (5)

Dennis, Although I really like Willie and don't blame him for most of what has happened, I agree that this was coming and everyone knew it and that Willie will be all right. But I do think that the timing and the method of this firing is depriving us of the sense of a clean slate that firing a manager should give a team and a fan base. All we are feeling this morning is rotten about the way in which it was done. How hard would it have been to figure out that this needed to be done with class so that the team could derive the maximum benefit from it?

Willie had to pay for the shortcomings of others and in some sense maybe his own. It is unfortunate in the way these events unfolded, and I sincerely wish him the best. What more could he have done to make this old, oft injured, unmotivated bunch any better?

Another brilliant move by the village idiot, AKA Omar the GM. Why do you let the manager and coaching staff fly across the country to be fired after midnight of the first game? What a BS move.

I'm not sure if John McGraw, Sparky Anderson, or Leo Durocher could have gotten much more out of this heartless, gutless, old timers team that the GM has put together.

Guess it shows that the stupid rich kid and the village idiot are joined at the hip.

I've been a Mets fan since day 1, in 1962, and I have never been so embarrassed and outraged by the actions of two "brain trusts" of Daddy Fred.

At least we used to suck with class.

he had 4 years and the team was going sideways and backwards..in new york, that's going to get any manager fired.great managers overcome the shortcomings of others.willie needed to make some players better..he couldn't do it.the halo of greatness clearly did not fit him..ironically with the starters seeming to come around and the addition of martinez, maybe we can put a run together..it's all going to come down to the arson squad (aka the bullpen)..it got willie fired, if it doesn't improve it's going to get manuel out of here fast too.. than it's time for a new gm amd manager..

I'm impressed that you spelled T#m Gl@v!ne correctly.

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