At 3:28 AM on June 17, 2008 I got a call from one of my writers. My first instinct was to hang up on him.
“Joe, get up, Willie Randolph just got fired!”
I still remember how those words made me jump out of bed, rush to my desktop, and 20 minutes later I posted this:
The Mets have fired manager Willie Randolph, as well as pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto. The team announced it shortly after 3 A.M. EST on Tuesday.
How nice of them…
The announcement came despite the Mets’ 9-6 victory against the Angels only hours earlier. The Mets upped their record to 34-35, but it wasn’t enough to save Willie.
Randolph’s career as manager of the Mets ends with a 302-253 record, the second-highest winning percentage in franchise history, trailing only Davey Johnson.
Randolph becomes the first manager to be fired in MLB this season.
This was handled terribly by the New York Mets. I believed the team needed a shake-up, but why did they let him fly to California when the decision could have been made after Sundays game? It was just another of the many disrespectful ways that Willie was treated during his time as Mets manager.
Willie was never given the luxury of choosing his own staff, and had a general manager who was too chummy in the clubhouse with his players. But having him work without ever getting an assurance that he had a job the next day was the ultimate insult for a guy who gave it his all.
To do this in the dark of night while the fans slept only further illustrates how unprofessional this organization is. The Mets have failed to show any class and it is moves like this one that give everyone the perception that they are a second rate franchise in this city. You are what your actions say you are.
The “Willie Watch” is officially over. We wish him luck in the future.
I laugh when I read that now… I was kind of pissed off, still very tired, and basically ranting as I began to understand the complexities of what just happened…
As more details kept coming in, I was kind of shocked by it all… And you could certainly sense that my animosity toward Mets ownership was very much alive and well six years ago…
There wren’t that many Mets sites around back then, and beat writers weren’t blogging and tweeting in those days, so MMO was one of the first sites to post the news.
On the bright side, it got me quoted in AM New York, WFAN and Newsday. At the time, that was a big thrill for me… I felt famous for about five minutes I’d guess.
I was always a big fan of Willie, and last season he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. When we wondered if he still followed the team, his eyes widened as he said, “Oh yeah, I definitely do.”
“David Wright is one of my favorite people, and I got to coach him in the WBC, which was great. And I’ve been looking at some of the talent they have — they’ve got some good young talent coming up.”
“I love Matt Harvey and guys like Jeremy Hefner who are coming into form, they’re really enjoyable to watch. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Zack Wheeler can do as he starts to develop, and I think they have a nice core coming together very soon.”
Willie wasn’t kidding, he really was keeping tabs on the Mets, and it was clear he had a high regard for the Mets captain.
“I was lucky enough to build a relationship with a guy like David, who I think can nurture some of these young players along.”
When asked what he thought about the Mets future, Willie was very optimistic. “I think they’re headed in the right direction, but from year to year, you have be willing to make adjustments to your situation.”
“Right now, their offense is lacking, and they could really do with a power hitting outfielder. Outside of that, the shortstop situation is something that needs to be remedied, and the catching situation could use a little clarity.”
“But you know, you make small steps towards the future. It’s not always the best way to get things done, but that’s what they have to do right now.”
Willie is a good guy and a class act… To me he’ll always be a part of the fabric of New York sports.