Today, the tabloids devote the majority of page-one real estate to baseball. The Willie Randolph saga has finally migrated from the front of the sports section to the front page. The Mets lost to the Florida Marlins 7-3 yesterday, but the manager won the right to keep his job (for now, at least).
The Post deems Randolph a “SCAPEGOAT” on page one and refers to the team as the “SAME OL’ MUTTS” in the sports section. The Daily News proclaims it “TIME TO WAKE UP, WILLIE” on the front while the sports section insists there’s “NO FIRE” in the team.
News columnist Mike Lupica compared the media circus surrounding yesterday’s press conference to “some sideshow Yankee day, with a media crowd big enough to fill a couple of sections behind home plate.” While the point of the conference was to announce that Randolph is keeping his job, the subtext running throughout was one of uncertainty. Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon were not at the conference, but General Manager Omar Minaya did pledge his support to Randolph. Post columnist Joel Sherman called the announcement “more stay of execution than endorsement.”
The memory of the 2007 collapse is fresh in the memory of fans, sportswriters and players, and it gets much play in the front of each paper. Randolph still needs to atone for that sin, and no one is going to let him forget it. Bringing the Yankees into it again, Mike Lupica notes that Bombers manager Joe Girardi is also struggling, but he has only managed 51 games with the team. Randolph has been around for three-and-a-half seasons.
Now we’re going to see some yammering about the Mets’ payroll (the highest in the National League) and more about other people to assign blame to in case Randolph does get the ax and that doesn’t turn things around. As the Daily News hints, this is a crucial year for New York baseball: both teams are getting new stadiums, and there seems a need to justify the expense. If Randolph doesn’t raise the team’s standings, his next front page appearance may say, “GOOD RIDDANCE.”