The Mets Midnite Massacre

The Mets fired Willie Randolph last night. It came after the Mets won their first game on the West Coast (against the Angels in Anaheim). Randolph and two of his coaches returned to the hotel to find GM, Omar Minaya, there at midnight. That’s when they got word that their services were no longer required or desired. The most obvious question here is why Minaya could not have made this decision 24 hours sooner and obviated a transcontinental flight for these three guys. Whatever.

The fact of the matter is that Willie Randolph was not nearly as brilliant a manager as he was made out to be in 2006 and early 2007 by an adoring NY media nor was he nearly as bad a manager as he was made out to be in late 2007 by a hyper-critical NY media as the Mets melted into a puddle of goo in September. The Mets’ team is old; they do not play defense well; their pitching is a lot better on paper than it has been on the mound. An objective observer – that eliminates 95% of Mets’ fans – might entertain the hypothesis that it is the guy who assembled this crew who is to blame and who ought to be “taking the rap”.

Here is an interesting angle on this matter. Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle selected Willie Randolph to be one of the NL coaches at the All-Star Game. You know MLB does not want anything to happen there to deflect attention from the game and its attendant festivities; so what is the over/under before Hurdle changes his mind or Randolph announces that he will be with his family on a vacation on another continent that evening? Remember, the game is in Yankee Stadium in NYC; it would be a huge “distraction”.

Meanwhile, Hank Steinbrenner has been running his mouth again. Yankee starting pitcher, Chien-Mien Wang, injured his foot running the bases in an interleague game. Steinbrenner fumed that it was time for the National League to come into the 21st Century and adopt the DH rule. Excuse me; but if the Yankees’ pitchers had to run the bases every time they played, maybe they would be conditioned to do so. It’s not as if Wang had been asked to run a triathlon; he was merely rounding third and heading home; millions of kids under the age of 12 do that in Little League games every day of the summer.

Since I’m on the topic of baseball, the NL West is a miserable agglomeration of teams at the moment and has been for a couple of years now. The division leading Arizona Diamondbacks would not be leading any other division in baseball. After starting the year with a 20-8 record, the D-Backs have put together a slovenly stretch of 17-25 and they still hold a comfortable 5.5 game lead.

The Mets – bad enough to fire their manager at midnight – would be in second place in the NL West; the Cincinnati Reds – last in the NL Central by more than 12 games – would be in second place in the NL West. The LA Dodgers are in second place in the NL West and they just went through a stretch where they endured 24 consecutive innings without scoring a run.

There are 16 teams in the National League. You have to ignore the Washington Nationals because they are really a Triple A team in disguise – - on their better days – - so it is interesting to note that the NL West is wonderfully represented at the bottom of the rankings in terms of runs scored:

    Dodgers: 292 runs rank 12th
    Rockies: 291 runs rank 13th
    Giants: 281 runs rank 14th
    Padres: 269 runs rank 15th
    Nats: 261 runs rank 16th

It was not all that long ago that the Padres were NL West champs with a record of 82-80. That division has been mediocre at best for a while now…

The Cubs have the best record in baseball and continue to win in the face of the injury to Alfonso Soriano. It would seem to me that if a team’s $136M player had to hit the bench for more than a month, it might put a cramp in the team’s style. It has not; so maybe Soriano is way overpaid? Just saying…

I read about a man named Jim “the Mouth” Purol who has Ripley’s Believe It or Not as a sponsor for his “stunts” that raise money for charities. “The Mouth” has smoked 159 cigarettes simultaneously in the past and once crammed 270 drinking straws into his mouth at one time. Why those feats raised money for charities is mysterious to me but if they worked, good on him.

In his latest stunt, Purol will sit in every seat in the Rose Bowl next month. There are more than 95,000 seats there and this event projects to about 5 days of nail-biting stand up/sit down action. The event will be open to the public – obviously for a donation of some kind – as people outside his nuclear family will presumably show up to watch this event and empty their pockets.

Purol earned his nickname “The Mouth” with his drinking straw and cigarette stunts. After he finishes this one, maybe he should be “The Butt”?

Many people believe that bad things happen in threes. If so, perhaps the recent deaths of Jim McKay, Tim Russert and Charlie Jones complete a cycle. Jones was not as well known as the first two men, but Charlie Jones was a top-shelf sportscaster for NBC for more than three decades doing everything from AFL football to golf and tennis on NBC. RIP to all three men.

Finally, some market wisdom from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:

“A letter handwritten by Hank Aaron in 1951 sold at auction for $24,150. I’m thinking that unless the letter came in an envelope stuffed with about $24,000 cash, somebody overpaid.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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