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A House Built On Cards . . .

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Who should take the blame for this latest debacle?

After being swept by the San Diego Padres, there is enough blame to pass around.

The Mets this season have been painful to watch. Every time their fans think that they have turned the corner, the team rips their hearts out with a lackluster performance—losing to a team, given the talent on their roster, they should beat.

Should Omar Minaya, the chief architect of this aging squad, be held accountable for what the fans have witnessed so far or should the blame for their lethargic performance be blamed on Willie Randolph?

Since taking over baseball operations and given total autonomy by the Wilpons, Minaya has upped the annual payroll from 55 million to 138 million. With the addition of Johan Santana, Minaya perhaps hoped that Mets fans would forget the historical collapse of last year.

Yet this season so far has been a microcosm of last year. Since June 2, 2007, the Mets are 83-87. Their indolent demeanor on and off the field can be attributed wrongfully or rightfully so, to Willie Randolph’s placid character.

Coach Randolph’s excuse of feeling victimized because of the hue of his skin has no place in the performance of his team, but his acquiescing manner does. No one would take him for task for showing some emotion. If a call goes against his team, if he’s upset about their uninspiring play . . . why doesn’t he show it?

Carrying one’s self with dignity and grace does not mean that emotions can’t be shown in the heat of battle. Perhaps, if Willie Randolph didn’t worry so much about how history would record his tenure as the first African-American manager of the Mets, and concentrated on lighting a fire under his players for the performance they’ve given so far, they wouldn’t be a sub .500 club.

“Well .500 is not acceptable,” Minaya said. “For me, it’s not acceptable because we’re better than that. It’s not so much about the investment. It’s about what this team is and what this team, talent-wise, is. As far as time frame, as far as when we should be better, I’d like to say we should be better right now,” Minaya concluded. “But we’re not.”

Perhaps, Minaya is looking at the team through rose colored glasses. He used to espouse the idea of having a roster that was young and athletic. Was it all just lip service—baseball rhetoric to appease the fans and the media?

Minaya is as much to blame as Randolph.

He has handcuffed Willie Randolph with a roster that according to a survey conducted in March was the oldest in baseball at 29.79. In the four years since he’s been here, Minaya has not addressed the barren farm system. He dismissed questions in spring training about the age of the club. Yet callers to radio sports talk shows predicted that El Duque, Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou, would see considerable time on the disabled list.

As fans anxiously await the new ball park, this house built on cards has begun to collapse. With 100  games remaining . . . will Randolph be given the opportunity to right this ship?

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author



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