The Mets just issued a press release saying that Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya have been “relieved of their duties.” This follows their morning release about the sun rising and anticipates their evening release about darkness falling. As soon as it came out a dozen fedora-wearing reporters rushed to pay phones to call in their scoop, they were so surprised.
Jon Heyman just tweeted that Minaya is being retained by the Mets to do . . . something. I’ve argued that such a thing wouldn’t be the worst idea on the planet and that the Mets, not wanting to pay Omar to do nothing (he’s under contract next year) may want to keep him around. Looking at it differently, however, there’s just way too much of a chance that his mere presence makes life difficult for his successor at GM. Well, more difficult than it will already be what with having to answer to Jeff Wilpon. I could see that part of things ending poorly.
Manuel, of course, is really gone. I’m having a hard time shedding a tear for him. He played a big part in Willie Randolph getting ousted a couple of years ago, allegedly serving as a conduit of player complaints about Randolph to the front office. Whether or not that was really a problem, he never showed any indication that he could inspire the Mets to do anything special, and he has certainly lost the confidence of the press, the fans talk radio and all of the usual constituencies that make managing in New York unique.
The Mets now embark on their quest to find a general manager who is savvy enough to fix the many things wrong with this team but desperate enough to where he’ll willingly subject himself to Jeff Wilpons’ caprice and the seeming mandate from ownership that you can’t rebuild in New York. I don’t know who fits that description. It may not matter unless ownership, in addition to changing managers and the GM, changes the way they’ve been doing things for the past several years.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.