Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So George Santayana Walks Into A Bar ...

Somewhere, in a saloon overlooking the afterlife, M. Donald Grant is ordering a boilermaker while Dick Young turns to him and says "Oh no he didn't!"

How bizarre was Monday's news conference?

James Dolan was embarrassed.

Heidi and Spencer thought it was petty and vindictive.

And Wallace Matthews was ... right.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, said that. And right now, he's at the same bar as Grant and Young buying the next round and having a huge laugh over the New York Mets, who continually refuse to learn from their mistakes too numerous to mention. I make plenty of mistakes too, and I made one today at about 2:30 upon learning that the Mets had called a news conference to announce the firing of Tony Bernazard. You see, I had the post in the can. It was called "Can You Feel A Brand New Day". Had an "exclusive clip" of the news conference featured on it. I even played it a few times and did my version of a happy dance to it. Because this should have been a day of rejoicing ... not because a human being was fired, but because just maybe, an organization that we all care deeply about was about to do the right thing and climb out of the abyss. Here's a small sampling of what I wrote in the post that will never be published:
"We're going to look back on the Bingo Mets incident where we now think of it to be an embarrassment, and see it in the future as the best thing to happen to this organization, because it got the ball rolling to get this done and get a guy like Bernazard out of the organization. I don't like to see people fired, but this was absolutely necessary and unavoidable ... kudos to the Mets who have done the right thing for the first time all season."
But I had a fleeting thought as I wrote that. I thought that somehow, the Mets are going to take this good news and taint it when the news conference actually starts. Only thing is that I had envisioned the wrecking ball to hit the newser in the form of: "We also have a trade to announce ... "

But when the right thing actually went so horribly, horribly wrong, I could have never imagined it going quite this way.

You know what happened at that point. Omar fired Tony Bernazard, and then in a bizarre twist, went on to tell the world that Daily News reporter Adam Rubin had been "lobbying" for a job in player development with the Mets for two years, and also imply that Rubin ... well, I'm not sure what he implied. Did he imply that Rubin wrote all the things he wrote to get Bernazard fired to take over for him? Or that Rubin wrote all those stories to get Bernazard fired to get revenge for not getting a job with them?

Predictably, when Rubin pressed him on it, Minaya didn't have a good answer for him. You expected something different with this franchise?

It was fascinating to catch this all on live television ... with the double box camera on Rubin right before the bombshell as if somehow, SNY knew exactly what was coming out of Minaya's mouth at that point. It was reality television that didn't need a script as today's reality television often needs to stay relevant and "hip". This was reality television so compelling, you found people that normally don't give a hoot about the intricacies of baseball keeping their remotes tuned to "The WheelHouse".

Is it right to be skeptical of Rubin? Sure ... at least in the way that we should be initially skeptical of anyone whose motives aren't apparent at first glance. After all, we live in a society where we've been burned so often by lies, fraud, and ponzi schemes that if Watergate had happened today, half the population would be digging into the past of Bernstein and Woodward to unearth some application they've filled out to apply for the office of President.

But I can't think of one thing that Rubin has ever burned Met fans on ... whereas I can think of various investigations, injuries, and broken bones that have given Met fans various ailments, rashes, and broken bones from punching the wall as they realized that they had been had by Mets management again. Besides, Rubin's initial reaction ... caught expertly by that second SNY camera whether by happy accident or by receiving some "keen insight" ... seemed about as genuine as they come along with his further reaction in front of other reporters when he became part of the story. I can't guarantee that Rubin's story is true, but I go by what I see and what I know, which is what we all see and know. And that's to trust that the propaganda that comes from the Mets organization is to never be trusted.

For example, the assertion that human resources was already on the case with the Bernazard story long before Rubin's articles were published, somehow implying that the club would have come to the same conclusion without Rubin, and that they wouldn't have spared Bernazard's job. Know this about human resources departments: the reason they exist first and foremost is to protect the big boys, to keep top ranking executives out of trouble. The interests of the low level workforce is well down on the list. The notion that the Mets' human resources department was going to come up with a report that would have put Bernazard out on the street is absurd.

But Bernazard is out on the street, thanks in large part to Rubin, who should be praised at this moment for excellent reporting ... instead he finds himself squarely in the center of a three ring circus for no good reason, whether he ever sent a resume to the Mets or not. The Bingo Mets incident should have been the best thing to happen to this franchise. It may still be. But right now, it only became the thread sticking out of the quilt that may become a full fledged pile of yarn when it's all said and done.

To state the obvious, Omar Minaya made himself look like a vindictive child on this one, for reasons we'll never know. If Minaya had made this a paper statement ... if he had used the same method of electronic mail that he used to let Rubin and others know that Willie Randolph (whom you couldn't blame for having a huge smile on his face right now) had been fired, the worst that would have happened would be the media accusing Minaya of trying to sweep this under the rug and not face the media to talk about it. But that probably would have made up 5-10% of the total reaction of the beat writers. Minaya should have come out of this as the good guy. It was a slam dunk.

Instead, he's placed the target squarely on his back when it didn't need to be. The target is especially big and bright when you consider that Minaya needed to have a second press gathering to apologize for the first one ... when there shouldn't have been one at all. And in this second gathering, you had Minaya apologizing not for what he implied, but that he implied it in a public setting. Meanwhile, you had Jeff Wilpon basically saying that the conversations that Rubin had regarding career advancement were impromptu and common, and that Rubin did nothing wrong (after all the writers who have worked for the Daily News that have gone on to work for the NHL or the Yankees, of course he did nothing wrong). So there you have it: a manager and an owner, standing in the same room, telling two different versions of the same story. And I'm supposed to be skeptical of Rubin?

Again, you expected something different with this franchise?

Yes, it was truly a bizarre Monday ... the least bizarre occurrence being Fernando Tatis not hitting into a double play as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded. And when that's the least crazy thing to happen in 24 hours, then it's been a mind-blowing 24 hours.

So belly up to the bar, getcha popcorn ready, and be prepared for the final act of the big top to unfold over the last two months of the season. Because remember, whenever you think it can't get worse, it always does. Brand new day? More like same old stench. George Santayana would like to remind you that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it ... and that you're buying the next round. (You see the afterlife isn't much different from your present form: the fans always get stuck with the bill.)


MetFanMac said...

"Once again, when it comes to doing the right thing, the Mets lead the league in having it turn out oh, so wrong."

How much more do the Mets want me to hate them? Now I'm actually being forced to agree with Wallace Matthews!

James Allen said...

Oh yeah, the game.

I can't remember the last time I watched a Mets game to help forget what a joke this organization was. And when Tatis hit that grand slam, I almost choked on my beer. I don't think there was anyone in the stadium who didn't think, "Oh shit, DP comin' up."

Three in a row? Really? Let me check my figures here... they haven't done that since May 25-29 when they won (gasp) four in a row and were seven games over .500! Imagine that.

Unser said...

It was your typical smear. Minaya did it to exact some pain on Rubin. Forget implying that Rubin was out for Bernazard's job, he did it to hurt him - a total non-sequitor designed to get Rubin in trouble with his bosses at the Daily News.

Calling this an embarassment doesn't do it justice. It was mean-spirited and unethical. For all the Mets ineptitude, I always felt that, at the very least, they had a good guy at the helm even if he may make some bad moves here and there. I've now lost respect for the man.

KC said...

Metstra, I think you are missing the point here. Yes, Adam did a great job in the investigation of Bernazard and his despicable acts. However, this report would not have seen the light of day or may have been presented in a different light had the Mets been winning. There is no doubt in my mind that Adam Rubin wrote this report to shame and embarrass the Mets front office and he found the perfect time to publish it now that the team isn't winning. This report could have been published a long time ago as some of the incidents sited happened "6, 4, 2 years ago" per Omar Minaya. I don't blame Omar for being upset, I would be too.

Bottom line here is, and I agree with you, we, the fan base, are once again embarrassed by the Mets Organization and their ineptitude. It was stupid of Omar Minaya to say during a press conference that Adam Rubin had unsuccessfully begged for a job within the Organization many times in the past, a fact corroborated by Jeff Wilpon. However, this does make Adam Rubin any less of a POS.

That's just my two cents.

Metstradamus said...

KC, I have to whole-heartedly disagree. There have been plenty of negative Mets stories that have been presented when the team was winning. Weren't the Mets in first place and coming off a division title when the Paul Lo Duca "ask them, they speak English" nonsense happen? And the media had to work a lot harder and stretch a lot thinner to make that into a story.

Yeah, some of the stuff happened years ago ... but Rubin wasn't sitting on them for years. He was told these things after the initial shirt story broke. Trust me, the Mets need no help from Adam Rubin to be embarrassed.

Metstradamus said...

And even if Minaya was upset, that should have never been brought up in front of everybody else, for his own sake.

kjs said...

Mets engaged in SNY Pregame news censorship last night---they kept the sound off the TV screens until 6:20, then totally blacked out coverage to play some "nostalgic" videos until the game started at 7:26.

The news that the Mets were adding an extra scoreboard and more Mets identity to Wilpon's Folly during the All-Star break were bogus.

Security was on a full "no open bottles" kick last night---really refreshing on a heat-stroke--inducing night.

Despite the chaos, it was actually nice heading out there for a change and seeing a competitive game. Crowd had some baseball bravado for the first time in months.

DW said...

kjs, the new scoreboard is not at all bogus. It is mounted in right field between the porch and excelsior levels, but was not operational last night. There is also steel framework for what looks like a large display in the promenade food court.

See this pic for the new RF board:

kjs said...

DW---Thanks for correcting me. I hope it's working by Friday so I can check it out...

KC said...

Metstra, regarding your latter point that Minaya should not have brought up in a presser the fact that Adam Rubin has begged and groveled for a job within the organization, I do agree 100% and I said as much in my prior post.

I must remind you about the Lo Duca incident that you referenced. Yes, the team was in first place at the time and coming off of a division title, however, the comment by Lo Duca was made during a stretch when the team was below .500 from a certain period. The media and the Daily News in particular always pounce on the Mets when they are not doing great and this is the truth.

No, the team does not need an SOB like Adam Rubin to embarrass themselves and the fan base.

Anonymous said...

Metstra...This was sent via email this morning to me from mets.com:

I wanted for you to hear directly from me today regarding an update on the investigation of Tony Bernazard, our Vice President of Player Development.

Prior to a series of articles published in the media, our Baseball Operations and Human Resources departments had begun looking into several matters involving Tony. Once those reports became public, we accelerated our investigation. We wanted it to be thorough and complete it as quickly as possible while still being fair to Tony. That process concluded over the weekend.

Yesterday, I met with Tony in person to have a frank conversation about what we had learned following interviews with numerous people. I also wanted for Tony to have the opportunity to give his side of the story.

After meeting with Tony, and giving a lot of thought to the facts, I came to a decision on Tony's status which I shared with Ownership last night. My recommendation was that we needed to part ways with Tony, as his behavior in his interaction with others was inconsistent with our organization's values. Ownership agreed with my assessment and accepted my recommendation.

I spoke with Tony this morning and informed him of my decision to terminate his employment with the Mets.

Personnel decisions are never easy. And one can't make them without giving it a lot of thought. It's even harder when you know someone as I do Tony. Tony and I go back a long time. He is a dedicated baseball man who loves the game, someone I like and respect, and someone who has contributed to the Mets. In the end, however, I just told him I couldn't leave him in his position after all that had transpired.

As General Manager of the Mets, I am fully accountable for our Baseball Operations department -- on and off the field -- and stand by this decision.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Mets.

Does it sound like he is trying to cover his tracks quickly...?