Friday, July 18, 2008

Mets Rolling, Randolph Was The Devil

It took the Mets exactly one month to erase a 6.5 game deficit and climb into a first place tie with Philadelphia after Willie Randolph was fired. Randolph got the axe on June 17 and on July 17th, the Mets had a spectacular come from behind win to pull even with the idle Phillies.

I have never really been one to blame Randolph for how poorly they'd played for the last year-and-a-half. I think managers get far too much blame and too much credit. The players are the ones not hitting the ball, or not pitching well, or not making heads-up plays on defense or on the bases. But you can't fire 25 players and start over, so you fire the manager and hope it shocks some life into the team. I think the manager can be blamed for attitude, not striking out. But attitude does seem to have been a problem (as well as striking out).

Thus far, the experiment has been successful with the Mets. Jerry Manuel is 18-9 in his first month as the Mets' manager, but more importantly the team is playing like they care. While I don't think Randolph is entirely responsible for their bad play and lax attitude, and it is unfair to blame his calm demeanor for their lack of heart, he certainly didn't seem to do much to change it.

Manuel is not doing anything drastically differently from the way Randolph did, he is just getting a lot more bang for his buck. And I suppose if all other things are the same except the guy filling out the lineup card, then maybe the guy filling out the lineup card is the difference.

The funny thing is that I know one of those alarmist, insane fans who wanted Randolph fired the moment he was hired because he was a Yankee. Then the Mets played well and Randolph was a genius - his aura of calm was a Godsend. Then came the collapse and to this guy, everything Randolph did was the dumbest move in baseball history. It was like when you are with someone you can't stand and the fact that you can hear them breathe drives you nuts, like they are doing something wrong.

So Manuel got hired and for the first few games, not much seemed all that different. My friend cursed the Mets for hiring a chump and blamed it all on G.M. Omar Minaya. I spoke with my friend last week after the Mets had won nine in-a-row (now 10), and he was singing the praises of all of these once-chumps.

So the moral of the story is the same old thing: in sports all that matters is what have you done for me lately (unless you are Andruw Jones, apparently). For now, Manuel's relaxed clubhouse is exactly what the Mets needed all along...until they lose three-in-a-row.

No comments: