It’s time. After Omar Minaya’s meltdown at the press conference called to announce the firing of Tony Bernazard, there is no logical course for the Mets to follow other than tearing the whole thing down and starting over. Just three years after coming within one game of the World Series, theirs is a fractured organization lacking both leadership and direction. Minaya’s performance on Monday is just the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents that have reduced the franchise to a laughingstock.
We often hear talk in the sports world of the “window of opportunity”. With salary caps and free agency now the order of the day, sports teams must take advantage of the circumstances that allow them to assemble as much affordable talent as possible because, eventually, they will not be able to pay all of their stars. For the Mets, the window seemed wide open in 2006. After years of mismanagement created by the Wilpons’ affinity for soliciting every opinion in the building, Minaya, as the single voice, was able to assemble a strong mix of young and veteran talent that looked as good as any in the NL. Then Yadier Molina’s homer in Game Seven of the NLCS sent the Mets home and two straight late season collapses gave evidence the window was closing. But Minaya recruited J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez last winter to help fix the team’s biggest problem and the faithful were, once again, filled with optimism. That is, until the ambulance was backed up to the players’ exit.
Injuries abounded as five members of the team’s Opening Day lineup went down along with two starting pitchers and a reliever. Compounding the problem was the misdiagnosis of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Reyes was originally treated for a calf problem that turned out to be a hamstring while Beltran received a cortisone shot for a bone bruise that actually doubled in size as he continued to play on it. This week, John Maine will receive a second opinion on a shoulder injury that has kept him out much longer than originally expected. These incidents have all served to call into question the competence of the team’s medical staff.
The bloated disabled list has also exposed a lack of depth in the minor leagues where the organization is not only absent the major league ready prospects that could bring help by way of a trade but has seen its top affiliates wallow near the bottom of the standings. These failings apparently took their toll on the head of player development, Tony Bernazard, whose often erratic and bizarre behavior has been well chronicled over the last two weeks. All of which culminated in Minaya’s now infamous performance on Monday.
First of all, why was there a need for a question and answer session with the media over the firing of a relatively lower level administrator? I’m not sure that even the most astute fan can identify the player development guy for his or her favorite ballclub. But, in the Wilpon’s world where, once again, no chain of command seems to exist, everyone has the ear of the owners, even a Tony Bernazard. Secondly, if it was decided that a press conference was actually in order, why wasn’t Jeff Wilpon at the microphone? The fact that Bernazard was let go for cause made the issue organizational and not departmental. And, finally, what did Minaya accomplish in his attack on Daily News beat writer, Adam Rubin, other than exposing himself as mean spirited and vindictive? That Wilpon spent Tuesday apologizing for his GM’s behavior and lamenting the embarrassment Minaya had caused both him and his dad, Fred, is an indication that even they have had enough.
The news isn’t all bad, however. The team’s two young stars, Reyes and David Wright, are signed for three more years. Two of the game’s best, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, anchor the pitching staff while, in Beltran, the Amazins’ have the game’s best centerfielder. But fences must be mended, especially with Beltran, who is reported to be furious with the organization over the original diagnosis of his injury. He’ll be looking for a new contract next year, one that should be given him based on his terrific production since joining the club. The GM that negotiates that contract should be the face of the franchise, the guy whose been given the keys by ownership to build a winner by whatever means he sees fit. Over the last few weeks we’ve learned that that person can no longer be Omar Minaya. The question is, have the Wilpons figured it out yet?
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USA Today writer, Christine Brennan, in response to ESPN reporter Erin Andrews being secretly videotaped in her hotel room, stuck her foot squarely in her mouth with this little gem that she shared on Twitter. “Women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house. There are tons of nuts out there.” Then, in trying to explain away the faux pas, went on television Monday and stuck the other foot in even deeper. “If you trade off your sex appeal, if you trade off your looks, eventually you’re going to lose those. She doesn’t deserve what happened to her but part of the schtick, seems to me, is being a little bit out there in a way that then you are encouraging the complete nutcase to drill a hole in your room.” Nice. Last week, when I pointed out that the dogs abused by Michael Vick had more advocates than women abused by other NFL players, I caught some crap from a few people who thought that women shouldn’t need advocacy; that they can speak for themselves and call on their own strength to leave their abuser. Thank you, Ms. Brennan, for reinforcing my point. Erin Andrews is a competent professional who covers a wide range of sports. She may not be a probing, investigative reporter but she performs well within her own arena. To say that she trades off her sex appeal and looks is as insulting as it is mean. Yet, her ability is not the issue here. Even if she was a bumbling, talking hairdo doing her sideline reports in a Hooters outfit, she does not deserve the violation of privacy that she suffered in that hotel room. To even insinuate that she somehow contributed to it is, well, playing to the frat house.
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So, Bud Selig is considering the reinstatement of Pete Rose to Major League Baseball. Who cares? Just do it already and let Rose take his chances with a veteran’s committee not all that happy with the hit king’s legacy of lies. That Rose tries to somehow contest the fact that he bet on baseball after having accepted a lifetime ban for it is one of the more brazen stances I’ve ever seen. Ironically, had he admitted his offenses, he more than likely would have been reinstated long ago and would already be enshrined in Cooperstown. But, as long as he’s arrogant enough to think he can deny his way into the Hall, he’ll make his induction that much tougher.
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Any word on those Yankee fans that gave the team up for dead back in April and then, again, in June? I’ve been tuning into sports radio hoping they’d turn up but, as yet, have been unsuccessful. I’m figuring the next place I’ll see them will be on Broadway during the ticker tape parade.
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