Friday, June 20, 2008

Willie Randolph and the Chicken Feathers

I've read some blogs from the Flushing Heathen saying that Willie Randolph did not do the job he was hired to do, and that's why he was fired; and, for that reason, the time of the season, the game of the day, and even the location of his firing don't matter.

These guys have a point. Willie did not do the job he was hired to do, which was to turn the Mets into World Champions and New York's Number 1 baseball team.

The Mets came within one run of a Pennant in 2006, came within one game of a Playoff berth and a Division Title in 2007, and now in 2008 are a sub-.500 team in a not very strong Division. And the Yankees, for all their difficulties since the bottom of the 9th inning on November 4, 2001, remain what they have been since the Met "dynasty" collapsed in 1992: New York's Number 1 baseball team.

What does this mean? It means that Met general manager Omar Minaya did not do the job he was hired to do: Get his manager the players he needed to do his job. You can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers, to use a cleaned-up version of a classic analogy.

Jose Reyes is Rickey Henderson circa 1988, i.e. a player with a lot of talent but a bad attitude who has thus far underachieved while fooling fans and media into thinking he's great. Henderson eventually got sent to a team that was good enough for him to make the difference, and he did. He proved he had what it takes. Reyes may one day become a 1989 Rickey Henderson, but can he do it with this bunch? So far, no.

Carlos Beltran is a SPORT magazine article short of being what Reggie Jackson was in the spring of 1977. Minus the three World Championships, that is. (Lucky for him, SPORT went out of business in 2000 -- coincidentally, the last year the Mets won a Pennant.)

David Wright is a can't-miss prospect. Which is also what he was 2 years ago when the Flushing Heathen thought Willie Randolph knew how to manage.

Carlos Delgado is a switch-hitting Mo Vaughn -- minus about 50 pounds.

John Maine and Oliver Perez are starting to look like Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon, pleasant surprises when they weren't being counted on to be regular members of the starting rotation, but when they were counted on, so much for all that early promise.

Billy Wagner... Let's just say if he stood up as well on the mound as he does in the locker room, he'd be closer to Mariano Rivera than to Kyle Farnsworth.

And Johan Santana and, when able to pitch, Pedro Martinez, have made no difference at all. At least Santana's not a headhunter.

Just 3 months ago, the Flushing Heathen were so sure that this team was going all the way. And, thanks to the Three Stooges -- Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya -- they have gone all the way down the drain. As they always do.

At the rate the Washington Nationals are going, Willie could be their next manager. Wouldn't that be something, Willie leading the Nats against the Mets 18 or so times a year, 9 or so times a year at Citi Field, and showing the 46,000 or so fans -- 20,000 or so coming dressed as empty seats because they don't want to see a crummy team -- what they wanted gone.

Willie Randolph has the moral high ground. Met management, and the Met fans who wanted him gone, wouldn't know a moral high ground if it bit them in the Keith Hernandez. (Maybe Kramer and Newman were right about him. After all, as a broadcaster, he's spit on plenty of people.)

Something is rotten in the neighborhood of Flushing Meadow. The food is spoiled. Blame the distributor. Not the cook.

Chef Manuel, I don't envy you your new job. Here's your, uh, chicken feathers. See what you can make of it. I'm just glad I'm a Yankee Fan and I don't have to eat it.

Met fans, the Flushing Heathen, can eat it.

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