Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing from several outlets which cover the Mets about “what went wrong” in 2010. It’s hard to take many of these stories seriously, as many of these same folks have taken great pains to defend the Mets’ stratagems over the last few years.
We also keep hearing rumors about executives that might replace Omar Minaya. From the expected (John Ricco), to the oft-repeated (Kevin Towers) to the obvious, but unrealistic (Gerry Hunsicker). The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter. As Peter Gammons noted last October, Jeff Wilpon is the real GM of the Mets.
As long as Jeff Wilpon (and Fred before him, make no mistake about that) continues to believe that Wilpon input is necessary and justified in baseball operations, no significant change will occur.
They need to hire a real GM, a man with a real plan, a resume of success and the ability to convince the Wilpons that not only to stay out of the way, but to allow him to gut the infrastructure of the entire operation. He needs NOT to care about “brand” or “marketing” or nonsensical things like “pitchability.”
He just needs to create a organization that hungers to win games. Not that would like to win games. Not one that puts people with no experience in charge of the most sensitive aspects of the organization. Not one that consistently rewards mediocrity.
Then, that GM needs to hire the manager of HIS choice, allow that manager to pick his coaching staff, and allow the baseball operations team to work independently of the business operation. All this talk of who the next Mets manger will be is asinine, because if the power structure doesn’t change, John McGraw could be the next skipper and not a things would change.
(Though I think Wally Backman is an excellent choice, the reasons for which he may be hired, and the atmosphere with which he will have to contend with, is a recipe for disaster.)
I wrote back in May that Jeff Wilpon needed to lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. I now amend that. Get the hell out of the way, for your team’s sake, for the fans’ sake, for the National League in New York’s sake. The Mets are a perfect example of what happens when unqualified people are given positions of power because of their birthright, popularity or friendship, rather than ability.
The time for the daily conference call with Jeff Wilpon needs to end. The time for the Jeff Wilpon “scouting trips” to the minor league cities needs to end. The time for the “different voice” in the room (which exists to create a board room atmosphere, yet alwways creates schism — see, Goldis, Al and Bernazard, Tony) needs to end.
It does not work. It never has. It never will.
Nelson Doubleday, the man who saved the Mets fans from the DeRoulet sisters, was a huge success in the corporate world because he allowed qualified people to do their jobs.
The late sportswriter Joe Durso, whose legendary work at the New York Times earned him entry into the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall Of Fame, wrote in 1986 that the Mets were a model franchise:
In an era when some owners of baseball teams not only telephone the dugout but also summon the manager and feud with the players, the Mets are pursuing their destiny these days in a remarkably benign relationship with their owner. It is even more remarkable because Nelson Doubleday is the present and future chairman of the Mets: He is the man who bankrolled the team when it languished on the bottom six years ago, and the man who reflects its soaring success at the top today. Like most owners, he is the Boss. Unlike most, he keeps his distance. He rarely visits the locker room, never second-guesses the manager and never, never calls the dugout.
”WHEN the dugout telephone rings,” Ron Darling was saying the other day in Shea Stadium, ”you never imagine it’s Nelson Doubleday. It isn’t, and it never could be.” ”Not with that owner,” he added, with meaning. ”And not with that manager.” ”If I ever tried it,” Nelson Doubleday said, wincing at the thought, ”Davey Johnson would probably take me apart.”
Fred Wilpon, who increased his 5 percent share in the Mets to full partner status in 1987, and complete ownership in 2002, always felt his baseball smarts compelled him to get more involved as his power grew.
The Wilpons have made a practice of hiring and listening to the wrong people for more than two decades; they have had their chance to influence the building of this organization. They have failed.
Utterly and completely.
Since their ascension to the big kids table in 1987, the Wilpons have spent hundreds of millions of dollars, ansd their little blips of success (1988, 1999, 2000, 2006) have all been followed by long droughts and public humliation.
So, until they get the hell out of the way, this team will never succeed. No matter how many writers, bloggers and fans justify the delusion that the Wilpons are part of the solution.