Willie Randolph has been fired.
It didn't go well.
The Mets skipper -- in danger every since the team's epic collapse late last season -- flew to Anaheim to begin a trip attended by general manager Omar Minaya. Then, after a victory, he was canned by e-mail release at 3:15 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Take that tabloids! Try to put that story on your back page for the morning rush!
Two coaches took the fall with Willie. It was about as hard to see coming as a plot twist in "Three's Company" that involves a misunderstanding about Jack Tripper not actually being gay.
The common refrain I heard on New York radio via WFAN.com is that "Willie deserved better."
Well, sure he did. Everybody does. But since when do most firings go smoothly in sports? Or life for that matter?
If the Mets had fired Willie at home, following a six-game losing streak, and brought him a cake to say they were terribly sorry, then called a limo to bring him back home -- it STILL wouldn't have been a "good day" for Willie.
Firing never is. It smarts. It stings. You can't deny it. It's the ultimate rejection. "We no longer want you." There is no massaging that hard truth.
It reminds me of many other sports firings that were either ham-handed, ill timed, or just plain mean.
Here in Washington, our hockey coach Glen Hanlon was fired on Thanksgiving Day last year. Thanksgiving! But because Hanlon is Canadian, our general manager George McPhee happily pointed out that Canadian Thanksgiving is a totally different day! Oh. Perfect!
Another year, Bullets general manager Wes Unseld traveled with the team to Seattle, fired Jim Lynam there after a game, and hired local coach Bernie Bickerstaff and brought him back on the plane with the team for an introductory press conference. Talk about cost savings!
It was believed that Jerry Jones didn't fire Dallas Cowboys legend Tom Landry with respect. After 29 years at the helm, how does that move go smoothly? Somebody was going to have to can the ol' fedora.
George Allen was fired from the Los Angeles Rams after two preseason games! Apparently, the old school Allen wasn't meshing with the new school players.
Yogi Berra was fired 16 games into the 1984 season with the Yankees. Nothing like pulling the plug after seeing just 1/10th of the season.
Norv Turner was fired by Dan Snyder after losing to the Giants, 9-7, at home in December 2000. Norv was actually asked by reporters: "Do you think you'll be fired tonight?" How do you like that! The Skins actually had a winning record at 7-6! Norv said he was the wrong person to ask. He was right. Snyder pulled the plug late that night, and for a brief moment Pepper Rodgers was ready to take over before mutiny stopped that plan. Terry Robiskie then presided over a 1-2 finish. To my knowledge, it is the only time an NFL coach has been fired in December with a WINNING record.
My own experience included a ridiculous firing. I was all of six weeks into a new morning radio show in Charlotte, N.C. I had just signed a new contract. I had just seen my first child born on the second day of the new show. I went on vacation for four days. I came back, and the general manager said he wanted to see me to discuss some things about the show. About five minutes into the conversation, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. I sat in his office for literally 10 minutes while he was gone. I actually got up from my chair, went to his desk, looked at the paper he was reading when the meeting began.
I knew then, it was over.
I spent more than $10,000 in attorney fees just to recover $30,000 worth of a multi-year contract that was worth probably 10 times that much.
So to Willie Randolph, I say enjoy your summer. The lingering nightmare is over, and given your talent as a skipper, there are better jobs ahead.
To everybody else who is complaining that this hit was messy, get over it. The news cycle moves fast, and the end result is the same. The Mets have turned the page, and Willie will get what money he has left on the deal.
We should all be so lucky.
Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.
A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.