Monday, November 01, 2004

Reason #1,962 Why This Team Kills Me

It looks more and more like the new Mets' skipper will be Willie Randolph. Meanwhile, Wally Backman is getting the Arizona Diamondbacks job. This just feels like another misstep in the Chevy Chase trip down the stairs for Wilpon Mgt, Inc. The thing is, there isn't a whole lot bad you can say about Willie Randolph. There aren't volumes of good, either; even a past managerial record would be a nice gauge. But he's a good guy with a long track record of being around when good things happened. Maybe the good fortune will rub off on the Mets.

The biggest problem I have with Randolph is that he's a quiet, dignified, guy who gets quiet, dignified praise from his peers. He was a solid ballplayer without flash, just a workmanlike performer. He says more with less, has a quiet calm (why does "quiet" invade every profile of Willie?), and is well-respected despite drawing little attention to himself. Oh, and he's been a part of playoff teams of the recent past, even though these playoff teams were choking dogs the past three years. With the lone exception of a New York background, Willie Randolph is Art Howe two years later, except that Howe had 12 years of managerial experience to Randolph's none.

Managers are often the antithesis of their predecessor, sometimes out of necessity. Art Howe was the ideal salve for the high-tension Type A Bobby V years. The timing was right for him to step in and be the calming voice of reason. But the same trainer who was parked in the dugout to check Bobby V's blood pressure in those moments of exteme ire kept his spot on the bench to check Howe's pulse to ensure he was still alive. And frankly, as a fan, and perhaps a player, you'd rather be awful with a manager who was going down fighting, kicking and screaming. That way it's apparent he's dying the same slow death you are. And right now we need someone a little feisty with whom to go through this painful battle. Wally Backman was a scrapper on the ballfield, and you'd have to figure this mentality is what carried him through the A-ball season to the accolades he's received. Willie Randolph? If there were a how-to guide for ensuring Howe II, it's Willie Randolph.

Boy, does the negativity just flow in MetLand these days. But even an idiot like me can only generate so much wasted optimism before he catches on. I got suckered in on Art Howe. I got duped on Robby Alomar, Mike Stanton, and Tom Glavine. Boy, did I get hoodwinked on Mo Vaughn. I even came around on the Benson and Zambrano trades after pleading against such action days before the trade. (After Benson walks this offseason and Zambrano visits the DL in '05 like Andruw Jones visited the Gold Club, this particular ass-burn will be complete.) And as the commander-in-chief says, "Fool me once, uh, er, fool me twice, um, ah, you can't get fooled again." So here I sit, jaded, surly, nasty, negative, and doubting that any move the Mets make this offseason will be to the team's long-term benefit. With Omar Minaya supposedly looking at Sammy Sosa, Alfonso Soriano, and Manny Ramirez, I see no reason why it'd be any other way.

I'll say this for Willie Randolph: if the Mets hire finalist Terry Collins, I quit. With Randolph, I stay on as that continually disgruntled guy. Man, I need a new team. If only one would move into my neighborhood . . .

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