I don’t care if Adam Rubin begged the Mets to be an office boy, then plotted the overthrow of general manager Omar Minaya, which — come to think of it — might not have been a bad idea.
Adam Rubin is not the issue.
Tony Bernazard is the issue. Minaya is the issue. The Wilpons are the issue.
The Mets are the issue, for crying out loud, and no amount of finger-pointing at Rubin, the New York Daily News beat reporter who exposed Bernazard as a hot-headed bully, is going to change that fact.
Minaya, at a news conference Monday announcing the firing of Bernazard as assistant general manager, said that Rubin had “lobbied” for a job in the Mets’ player-development department.
As if that changes anything.
As if now all of the Mets’ secrets are revealed.
Injuries, the Mets keep talking about their injuries. At this point, those injuries are just a convenient excuse. Even when healthy, this team is a dysfunctional mess, from the top down.
The Mets do not want to clean house, some say, because it would mean starting over. But that is exactly the point. If ever a team needed to start over, this is it.
The dismissal of Bernazard ultimately might be viewed as a positive step, if the Mets replace him with someone who can fix their farm system and start spending as aggressively in the draft as other high-revenue clubs.
But on a day when the Mets should have drawn praise for dumping a controversial, volatile executive — “a cloud has been lifted from over the organization,” one relieved employee said — they again turned into laughingstocks when Minaya singled out Rubin.
“Omar might be done because of this presser,” one of Minaya’s friends said. “It was that bad. He was awful.”
Minaya is one of my favorite people in baseball, warm and charismatic, forever optimistic. But from his 3 a.m. ET firing of Willie Randolph last season to his bizarre performance Monday — not to mention all the questionable personnel decisions along the way — it is fair to ask:
What the heck is he doing?
Look at the Mets. Look at the Phillies. And tell me why Minaya should not be held accountable, even though he has yet to begin his three-year contract extension.
Let’s assume the absolute worst, that Rubin was agenda-driven, conspiratorial and just plain evil, all because the Mets wouldn’t give him a job.
I doubt any of it is true, but who even cares?
The Mets fired Bernazard for one reason: Rubin embarrassed them with the truth.
Minaya said the Mets began their investigation even before Rubin’s series of articles. Well, they could have acted much sooner. It’s not as if Bernazard — who joined the organization on Dec. 1, 2004 — had a recent personality change.
Bernazard is a smart guy, full of good ideas. Yet, he has a dark, restless side. Many believed he was behind the firing of Randolph. He certainly was close to — and enabled by — Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer. Even if he wasn’t plotting and scheming, he sure gave that impression.
A week ago Friday in Atlanta, before Rubin’s stories broke, I approached Bernazard at the batting cage and asked him how he was doing. I tried to be sympathetic, citing the Mets’ injuries. But Bernazard immediately labeled the team’s performance “unacceptable.”
I thought to myself, “Wait, is he taking a shot at Jerry Manuel?” Bernazard last season had been one of the manager’s biggest supporters. Maybe he was just frustrated with the team’s position in the standings. Or maybe he was hinting at something deeper. Talking to Bernazard, it was often difficult to tell.
The next morning, I heard that the Mets’ television network, SNY, had wanted to interview Greg Maddux during the previous night’s game in Bernazard’s suite on the press level — but that Bernazard had refused to allow them to enter.
I asked Bernazard about the incident, more curious than anything else. I knew that, as a former player and union official, he had great respect for Maddux, who was in town to have his number retired by the Braves.
Bernazard explained that he was working, making confidential phone calls, watching the game. He could not give up his suite and go out in the hallway. Why could the interview have not taken place somewhere else?
His position was not entirely unreasonable, but I said, “C’mon, it’s Greg Maddux!” and we basically left it at that. Bernazard was an assistant GM, mind you, not the actual thing. But he had too much authority because Minaya and Jeff Wilpon gave him too much latitude.
I could go on, but I forgot: This is all Adam Rubin’s fault.