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.)