METS SUDDENLY LOOKING BETTER AND ALL IS CALM • Latino Sports

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METS SUDDENLY LOOKING BETTER AND ALL IS CALM

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Latino Sports’ Rich Mancuso covered the Mets game upon the return to New York of Joe Torre, now manager of the LA Dodgers, who personally went through speculation of whether he would lose his job during bad times as Yankee skipper, but here Rich talks of Willie Randolph’s reason to smile with recent consecutive wins. NEW YORK – A manager is as good as the players he has. And New York Mets Manager Willie Randolph can now relate to that statement as the results have been much different the past few days. Three consecutive wins and a calmer clubhouse have made all the talk of firing Randolph quickly disappear.

Runs being scored with two outs, descent starting pitching, a better bullpen, and some breaks finally going their way is what the Mets have seen this week. The latest good news from Shea Stadium came Thursday evening, an 8-4 opening series win over the Los Angles Dodgers that spoiled the New York homecoming for former Yankees manager Joe Torre.

“A three- game winning streak we’ll take that,” said Randolph who finally has reason to smile after a week of frustration and wondering if he still had a job managing the team. “Back to .500 that’s what we want to push from. We’ve got to sustain it we have been up and down,” he said.

All week Randolph was looking like the bad guy and General Manager Omar Minaya was not looking like the culprit for the losing. Since last June the Mets have been a .500 team and continue to fade quickly, a $138 million dollar mess that Minaya put together.

A team of old timers pitching and hitting below their career marks and the latest slide, before Monday, losing 7-of-8 and 10 of the last 14, made Randolph look like the bad guy. But there were the supporters of Randolph. Don’t blame the manager for a team batting average of .229 and 5.25 team pitching earned run average over those last 14 games.

“Getting the job done and executing properly,” is what Randolph said Monday evening after the Mets last loss, and of all teams, to the $25 million dollar east division leading Florida Marlins. Making the plays on the field, hitting and scoring runs, is what Randolph meant. Except, as we all know, he does not take the field.

So with frustration obviously showing, Randolph last week makes those supposedly off-the record remarks to a reporter. The negativity on his managing, Randolph claimed, was racially motivated. He is the first African American to manage the Mets.

But the racism accusation was made public. Mets owners were silent until they later met Randolph face-to face. Randolph should have known when you are talking “off the record” to a reporter, and when the recorder is clearly seen on your desk, it is not off-the record.

And for a week the speculation mounted. Will Willie Randolph get fired by the Wilpon Mets ownership or get a reprieve? No mention of Minaya taking a fall for Randolph. The answers from Minaya were still not definite last Monday. “Willie is the manager and has the support of the ownership,” said Minaya.

But now it should be definite as the Mets are at the .500 mark again. 26-26. Randolph sat the struggling Carlos Delgado for two games and used some of his bench players. Fernando Tatis, Damion Easley, Endy Chavez and catcher Ramon Castro got some things going as the Mets took two of three from Florida.

Then Thursday evening, Delgado returned and made a stellar play at first base and also got two hits. Chavez, getting more playing time from right field gunned down Juan Pierre at the plate in the first inning that ended an early Dodgers lead. That got starter Claudio Vargas (2-2) off to a good start and a win.

The bullpen came through again and preserved the win for Vargas, now allowing two runs in their last 20.1 innings for a 0.88 ERA.

David Wright is once again showing all-star numbers, twice connecting for two-run homers.

Vargas got on base due to catcher’s interference, at the time with two outs that led to a four-run fourth inning.

“We are calmer in the clubhouse and relaxed and making the right plays; you can see the difference,” commented Chavez. Tatis, the veteran has also been instrumental in this brief turn around at Shea. Randolph has him in right, and in left, as the Mets are short in the outfield with Ryan Church injured, Moises Alou and Angel Pagan on the disabled list.

So firing Randolph was not the answer to the Mets mess in Flushing. It was all good in 2006 with Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran, and a healthy Pedro Martinez. Something that ended quickly as Mets fans still don’t forget Beltran looking at a third strike and the St. Louis Cardinals advancing to the World Series at Shea Stadium.

Then the last September collapse from the Minaya assembled Mets that they still remember.

And we don’t know what Randolph has said to his players since the events of last week, perhaps forgetting about those bad days.

But it is evident what has happened the past few days as Randolph is smiling in the dugout and the Mets are winning.

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Edited and posted by WGR

About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]