Thursday, May 22, 2008


IF YANKEES fans have been at loss to explain why their team is not hitting so far this season, then supporters of the New York Mets must be tearing their hair out.

Is there any more enigmatic team in baseball? One day they play like potential world champions, the next they look like chumps.

You might have expected their weekend demolition of the Yankees to act as a springboard for a winning run.

Not a bit of it. They haven’t just lost the first three games of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves; they’ve been out-pitched, out-hit and outfought. 

The score currently stands at 23-7 in favor of the Braves. The onus is now on Johan Santana to save them from a humiliating sweep against Tim Hudson at Turner Field tonight and keep the Mets the right side of .500.

Willie Randolph, the first African-American to manage a baseball team in New York, has been feeling the heat from frustrated Mets fans virtually from opening day…and the pressure is mounting.

He didn’t help his cause by suggesting in one newspaper interview that criticism of his management of the team had racial undertones.

No more multiracial sport than baseball

What utter nonsense. There is no more multiracial country than the USA, no more multiracial city than New York and no more multiracial sport than baseball. The color of your skin is irrelevant. White fans worship black ball players and vice-versa.

I’m from England yet my favorite baseball players are Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to question their creed or color; their place of birth or their nationality. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the two best players on the team I happen to support.

To be fair to Randolph, there is no escape from the media spotlight in the Big Apple. Every word has to be chosen carefully or before you know it, it has been blown out of proportion on every website, newspaper and blog.

The role of manager in baseball is vastly overstated, but Mets fans have a right to question whether Randolph is getting the best from his roster of players.

Most believe the Mets are better than their current record. The addition of Santana was supposed to be the final piece in the jigsaw, the ace that would turn the Mets into World Series winners.

It might do yet. We’re only a quarter of the way into the season. But baseball is not just America’s favorite pastime; it’s a sport played, analyzed and dissected every day.

The question fans constantly ask is what have you done for me lately? Mets followers were ecstatic on Sunday. Four days later and they’re again asking whether Randolph is the right man for the job.

Winning record reflects higher payroll

His first three seasons have all been winning ones. His overall record currently stands at 285-234. On the debit side, he has been given a lot more to play with than any other previous Mets manager.

The addition of Carlos Beltrán and Carlos Delgado to David Wright and José Reyes gave the Mets the most formidable batting line-up in the National League.

The loss of Pedro Martínez through injury has been offset by the big-money signing of Santana from the Minnesota Twins.

After last season’s pathetic collapse down the stretch, what Randolph needed most was a fast start to 2008.

Instead, the Mets find themselves one place off the bottom of their division, three and a half games behind the surprise leaders, the Florida Marlins.

Unlike Joe Girardi across town, Randolph does not have time on his side. He’s been given the goods by Omar Minaya and the owners. Now it’s time to deliver.

If the Mets are not above .500 come the All-Star break, Randolph has two chances of hanging on to his job – slim and none – and slim’s just left town.

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