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Mets make Randolph a martyr

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I am not even sure I know where to begin with regards to how the New York Mets handled the firing of manager Willie Randolph.

I wrote a few weeks back that I thought Randolph should have been fired. I don't think he is the sole reason they are in the position they are, but you can't fire 25 players. The manager is always the first to go.

With that said, the way general manager Omar Minaya and the Mets handled this has been an absolute disgrace.

Making him fly with the team to the West Coast for one game, which they won by the way, then canning him late in the night so, presumably, the New York papers, which had already gone to press, would not have the story on its back pages is about as cowardly an act as I've seen in my time following sports.

I can't remember a situation being handled worse. I really can't.

Congratulations to the Mets, they made a move that was probably universally approved by their fan base and turned it into one of the biggest black marks in the history of the franchise.

Who exactly were the Mets trying to slip one by anyway? Forget the fact that they play in the biggest media market in the world in New York, but this isn't 20 years ago. People don't get their news from newspapers anymore. We live in the ESPN age, sports information is at your fingertips almost as quick as it comes out.

Honestly, Randolph probably should have been fired following last season after the team endured one of the worst collapses in major league history. When you go through something like that, major changes have to be made. If for anything just to get that negative feeling out of the locker room.

But they stood by him and essentially brought back the same team with the addition of the best pitcher in baseball in Johan Santana. They were in first place most of last season, so with the addition of the two-time Cy Young Award winner, the Mets were not only the odds-on-favorite to win the NL East, but the National League as well.

In perhaps the biggest understatement of the year, things have not gone as planned for the 2008 Mets. Now just three weeks removed from their big horse and pony show on Memorial Day, when they held a press conference to announce Randolph's job was secure, they have fired him.

The problems with this Mets team run a lot deeper than just their play on the field. Even the greatest chef in the world cannot create a culinary masterpiece with rotten ingredients.

Sure injuries have been a problem, but this team just seems to lack heart. Name me the leader of the Mets. They are a bunch of indians without a chief.

I think Moises Alou could have been that guy, the Julio Franco type to keep some of the younger players in check, as well as the one to assuage the tender psyches of some Mets. The problem, of course, is that Alou is always hurt.

Randolph never seemed to get the respect from some players in the club house. Players have alluded to it before, but maybe there is something to the stories you hear about the Latin players resenting him a bit, for whatever reason. It is also no secret that vice president of player development Tony Bernazard has the ears of some of the higher profile Latin players.

Bernazard will tell anyone that will listen that Manny Acta is the best manager in baseball. He makes a point of mentioning it every time the Mets play the Nationals. Players notice that stuff, especially if their own manager is being undermined in his own club house.

I hope Minaya, who has many times called himself a Willie Guy, can look himself in the mirror this morning. Minaya better remember this, though, with Willie gone, he becomes the one on the chopping block.

And if you don't believe me listen to the words of owner Fred Wilpon, who told a New York radio station that this move and the timing of it was in fact all Minaya's doing. He is being made the bad guy. And if this doesn't work, someone else will undoubtedly go.

And I will give you two guesses who that is.

It's hard to believe this was all Minaya's call. Fred Wilpon's son Jeff has never been a Randolph fan and he is slowly being groomed as the successor to his father. I find it hard to believe that he didn't have any input into any of this.

Maybe Hank and Hal Steinbrenner don't have the overindulged, spoiled, inept, undeserving-of-his-job, son of a rich, baseball franchise owner in New York market cornered anymore.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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