Subway Series: Part 4
I know you’ve been a fan of the Yanks since the 1970s, so surely you have a place in your heart for Willie Randolph. Unfortunately, the Mets fans and pundits are calling for his head after every loss … it’s getting awful. I rarely stick my head out of my Mets vacuum, so don’t know if that’s the case with Girardi. Is there a lot of noise about firing him, or that the Yankees made a mistake in offending Joe Torre (or not hiring Don Mattingly)?
If so, here’s an idea: How about we trade managers, since most fans complain that Willie doesn’t play small ball, doesn’t motivate the players, doesn’t get fired up enough, doesn’t argue with umps, doesn’t get thrown out of games, doesn’t handle the pitching staff properly, and his “Torre style” of managing doesn’t work in the NL. (I don’t necessarily agree with all these complaints) Knowing the public perception of Girardi, you’d think he’d be perfect for the “Fire Willie” camp. And perhaps getting a Torre disciple would ease the fans in the Bronx?
I haven’t paid close enough attention to how Randolph manages to have an opinion one way or the other about him as a field general, but the manager usually gets the brunt of the blame when his team underachieves. So far as I can tell, Girardi hasn’t gotten much grief in the BX. He’s strange. I knew he was uptight which is a perfect fit for the Yankees. But I’ve been surprised at how secretive he’s been at times with the media re: player injuries. Almost to the point of being paranoid. Since he played and coached for Torre, worked for YES and FOX, I didn’t expect that from him. Michael Kay has said that Girardi reminds him of Billy Martin in that he takes losses very hard. You can see him, pale and drained after a loss. I think he’s equal parts Buck Showalter and Bill Virdon.
It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out for him. My contention all along is that you wouldn’t want to be the guy who replaces Joe Torre, you want to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaces Torre. Still, for a guy following Torre, I think Girardi is fine. He’s not beloved in the way that Mattingly is, but I think he can take what comes–success or failure–and survive it as well as anyone in his position could.
As for manager-swapping, I’d just assume keep Girardi over Randolph. And I think Met fans would embrace ANYONE who got his team winning. They’ll throw bouquets at Randolph’s feet too, although I fear that anything short of a championship would be considered a disapointment for Randolph at this point. I could be wrong about that. What’d your take?
Wait, I’m still trying to get over the combination of Bill Virdon and Buck Showalter — the vision of that gives me the willies (pardon the pun).
You’re dead on about two things: first, the Mets fans would embrace anyone who happens to be manager when the team wins. And second, Willie will be considered a failure if the Mets do anything other than get to the World Series. I don’t think they’ll blame him if he loses the WS, but if he doesn’t get there, everyone will expect him to be fired. And that’s a difficult expectation for any manager.
What bothers me is that many Mets fans seem to me to be more like traditional Yankees fans — in that they expect the team to finish first and make a World Series appearance. I suppose some of it has to do with the expectations set by the Wilpons, and their commitment to building a winning ballclub (i.e., signings of Pedro, Beltran, trade for Johan, etc.). But historically, the New Yorkers who were Mets fans were the people who were, well, “anti-Yankee” fans. In other words, the opposite of the Yankees fans. Being a Mets fan meant you pulled for the underdog, and had little expectations, and cheered for your team through good times and bad. But that seems to have changed, and I suppose it’s a natural progression when your team starts dishing out nine-figure contracts.
Naturally, I’d like to see the Mets in the Fall Classic again someday, and was frustrated by their underachievement last year. But the more Willie gets blamed, the more I find myself pulling for him. It’s as if he’s embodied the traditional Mets — an underdog, with seemingly no chance to win. That said, though I proposed the Randolph-for-Girardi trade, and believe a strong personality like Girardi is what many are clamoring for, the sentimental side of me wants to see Willie come out of this a winner. The logical side, though, is starting to lose confidence in Mr. Randolph.
OK, I’m finished … in the next installment, we finally discuss the series at hand. In particular, Alex will educate us on the Yankees bullpen, who stole the “d” at the end of Edwar Ramirez’s name, and which team he predicts will win the series (you may be surprised). Check back in a little while ….