This time last week, the New York Mets looked to have turned the corner while the New York Yankees were still on the road to nowhere.
So much for momentum. The Mets followed their two-game sweep at Yankee Stadium by losing all four games in Atlanta. Now they’ve lost two out of three to a Colorado Rockies team so badly hit by injuries that they had to ask the laundry lady to bat cleanup.
Six defeats in their last seven, nine in 13, have dropped the Mets - pre-season favorites to win the National League East - two games below .500 at 23-25.
It can’t have been a happy flight back to the Big Apple for manager Willie Randolph as he figured out what to say to owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon at their crunch meeting tomorrow.
Will Randolph still be in a job come Monday night? “I don’t see why not,” he told reporters.
Randolph insists he still has the backing of the players; that he hasn’t lost the clubhouse. But if the phone-in shows on ESPN and WFAN are any indication, then he has certainly lost the faith of the fans, still smarting from last season’s late collapse.
No one, apart from general manager Omar Minaya - and possibly Randolph himself, knows what exactly is on the agenda for their meeting. Will Randolph be asked to explain his comments claiming he’s being subjected to unfair criticism due to the color of his skin. Will he be grilled on the team’s performance? Will he be fired?
Mets manager still has two years to run on his contract
Two factors may earn him a stay of execution. First, his contract doesn’t expire until 2009; he’s owed $2 million this year and $2.25 million the following season. Secondly, there’s no one outstanding candidate to take his place.
If he’s still in the dugout at Shea tomorrow night, Randolph can expect a few boos from the fans. Division leaders Florida Marlins are the visitors for a three-game series, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective. Win 3-0 or 2-1 and the pressure will be lifted, even if only for a short time. Lose and the calls for Randolph’s head will grow even louder.
Randolph can at least draw from solace from the turnaround at his old club, the Yankees. A dramatic, come-from-behind 6-5 win earned the Yanks another series sweep against the sinking Seattle Mariners and their fifth consecutive victory.
Suddenly, the sun is shining and the Bronx Bombers are making hay, albeit against some of the American League’s lesser lights. The return of Alex Rodriguez has coincided with an outburst of offensive power. Coincidence, of course, is not the right word. With so many lefties in their line-up, A-Rod brings balance to the batting order, not to mention his home run threat.
With the Red Sox struggling on the road, the Yankees have a chance to make up the lost ground, although they now have to do it in Baltimore, then Minnesota. They’re back level at .500 and manager Joe Girardi will believe that from now on, the only way is up.
Yes, one week sure is a short time in baseball.