Thursday, May 22, 2008
Braves 4 Mets 2
It was August 2005, his first season managing the Mets, that I first had doubts about Willie Randolph. The Mets were a sloppy team, screwing up the basics Willie aways did so well, & blowing games. But they were high-spirited team on occasion, showed some attitude now & then, & they were hanging tough just outside of the wild card slot. That race was wide open. They were a slightly underdog Mets, not quite glued together. They needed some talking to, some explaining, a few kicks in their asses. It was the kind of disjointed team a manager like Lou Pinella would have yelled, sulked, juggled & wrestled into the playoffs. Willie didn't do it.
In 2006 the Mets were worthy of the World Series & everyone knew it. They got within one game. Well alright. That happens. Mets fans aren't like Yankees fans. It was a fun year. No regreta.
2007 was inexcusable. The Mets piled up a lead in the NL East, coasted through the second half of the season, & then the notorious choke at the end when they only needed to win one friggin' game. The whole sorry month of September summed up by images of slumping, dispirited Jose Reyes failing to dig in his cleats & run out grounders to first, stone-faced Willie in the dugout as if he believed he had done everything possible. Something was terribly wrong in the Mets clubhouse. It's still wrong now. Maybe the Mets are just an unmagical assortment of quality ballplayers & lay it on GM Omar Minaya's shoulders. Maybe the Mets & Yankees should trade managers, bring Joe Girardi over to Shea where there's a need for a guy capable of losing his temper with moody batters who don't run out ground balls, & relief pitchers who don't shut up, & umpires who don't see the foul poles; & send Willie Randolph to the Stadium where the players don't need motivational speeches & lessons in fundamentals, & the clubhouse has been self-policing since Jeter was named captain.