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Todd Jones Impersonates Magglio Ordonez in Rain Delay

Rain delays are always good for fun times in baseball. Over the weekend, it was Jonathan Papelbon and Manny Delcarmen doing a Milli Villi music video that brought entertainment to Fenway Park. Before that, it was the Texas Rangers using the tarp at Shea Stadium as a slip and slide. But of all the fun had during rain delays, this might be my favorite. Check out Todd Jones doing his Magglio Ordonez impersonation for the ’06 ALCS home run that sent the Tigers to the World Series. It’s awesome:

The quality on that vid is pretty poor, but there’s another video from a fan in the stands if you want to get a feeling for the atmosphere. There’s no question about what makes it funny: it’s all in the hair. Plus, Jones does a really good job mimicking Magglio’s mannerisms and stance at the plate. That was a quality effort by Mr. Jones, quality.

Jerry Manuel’s First Move: Less Batting Practice for Mets

The last time we discussed teams doing less batting practice, it was during the playoffs when the Angels were pimp-slapped by Curt Schilling in Game 3. Needless to say, they didn’t perform well. And that brings us to Jerry Manuel, the newly appointed manager of the Mets. One of his first moves as the team’s skipper was to cut down on the amount of batting practice the players take before games.

Jerry Manuel wants quality swings during batting practice, not mind-numbing repetition. The Mets normally go with four shifts of eight swings each, and then rotate groups. Manuel has chopped those in half after noticing a lot of tired swings in games.

Well, nobody ever said Manuel wasn’t an independent thinker. Somehow having the team practice less isn’t exactly the message I would think you’d want to be sending to the media. But if it produces results, that’s all that matters. Besides, Manuel’s approach is quality over quantity. Not that rounds of eight swings is anything too much to begin with. Whatev. I doubt this was a change that really needed to be instituted.

Fired John McLaren on Mariners Mess

The second of the managers to be whacked this week — Willie Randolph and John Gibbons being the others — spoke out today, one day after being fired. Not unlike Willie who was critical after his firing, McLaren took a small hammer to his former team. Via Mullet’s perm at FanHouse:

”There is tension, friction and a little jealousy. We (the staff) tried to deal with it, but they got to do it on their own.”

”The tension and jealousy has been there, and crystal clear,” he said. ”The only reason I mention that, not to deter any criticism from myself, but to make this team better.

”If they can get in that room and work some issues out, they’ll be better off. Sometimes we get caught up in own world.”

”I am not calling anybody out. I’m not bashing them. Its hard to come to the park when you lose for gosh’s sake. But we’ve had a divide, hitters vs. pitchers. On a good team, those things are overlooked. But (not when) you’re losing.”

Well, gotta say something to make yourself look good, right? Thing is, there’s jealousy and tension on good teams. Remember the fight between Youkilis and Manny in the dugout? I’m sure things aren’t much of a difference on the M’s compared to other teams. The only thing different about the Mariners is they’ve scored the fewest runs in the AL. I’m guessing that’s the main problem; winning obscures mostly everything.

John Gibbons’ Grandma Predicted Future

Pretty much anytime you hear of a manager throwing literal punches at one of his players, you know he doesn’t have a very good grip on things. I’m actually surprised Gibbons lasted this long. The Blue Jays have a good team, though their lineup has underachieved. There have been criticisms of Gibbons that he didn’t use his excellent bullpen enough. My retort is that when you have starters as good as Toronto’s are, you probably wouldn’t use your pen too much, either. Anyway, my favorite part of this news, aside from Cito Gaston being brought back, is that Gibbons’ grandmother was all over this news two months ago:

For manager John Gibbons, one nice thing about the Toronto Blue Jays’ current road trip was the opportunity to visit his 96-year-old grandmother, who lives a few miles north of the city, in Beverly, Mass. But there hasn’t been much else nice happening for Gibbons lately. Heck, even his grandmother knows that. Upon seeing him, her first question was, “Are you going to be fired?”

That was in April. Now, finally, almost two months later, he’s finally been “relieved of his duties.” What the heck is up with that expression anyway? Relieved from his duties? What, was it a burden? Was he taking a leak while working? What does relief have to do with it? How bout this one: he was FIRED because he was underachieving. I like that a lot more. And now Cito Gaston’s back, which makes everything worth it.

Omar Minaya Gave Willie Randolph Extra Time Because He’s African American

I’m glad Omar Minaya held his press conference so he could answer a lot of the questions regarding the firing of Willie Randolph. For instance, it explained why Minaya waited until the first day of a road trip and why the news came overnight. Additionally, there was one element of Minaya’s news conference that stood out to me, aside from the fact that he talked out of both sides of his mouth: race had a large role in Minaya’s decision. Omar made it well-known that Randolph was given plenty of time and chances because he’s African American, and because he had a vested interest in seeing Randolph succeed. Just read some of the things he said, or watch it:

“Willie was my hire. It was my decision, and I decided to fire Willie. It was my decision. A tough decision, but it was my decision. And it’s a tough one. I say it’s tough. Why? Because I hired him, one. He is the first African American manager in the history of New York baseball. I’m the first Hispanic general manager in baseball. When you have that bond, there’s a connection. And myself, giving Willie that chance to manage, it took me time to make this decision. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.”

“I have vested interested in Willie Randolph doing good … because I hired him. Willie Randolph is a reflection of my judgment. Like myself, I went to eight to ten, 12 interviews. Willie Randolph went to 12. He was not given an opportunity. I felt he should be given an opportunity. I feel as a general manager, to give the first African American an opportunity in New York, it’s important to the history of this franchise, and even more important, it’s important to our ownership. And to me, this is a very tough decision.

So there you go. If you were ever wondering why Randolph wasn’t canned at the end of last season, where it was certainly called for, it’s because Minaya wanted to give Randolph as many chances as possible to succeed. Ditto for why he hadn’t been fired any one of the other bagillion times there was a rumor he would do so over the last six weeks. I think it’s understandable that Minaya felt this way, but I’m surprised he actually admitted it in public. I think it’s actually worse in the end that Minaya fired him in the middle of the season instead of just giving him the year. But I guess he’s trying to do anything now to save his skin.

Mets Finally Fire Willie Randolph

Wow, this is nuts. Imagine my surprise to happen upon this story, the night after a Mets win no less. The Mets have apparently announced the firing of manager Willie Randolph, ending weeks of speculation that he would be canned. I guess now we know why Omar Minaya made the trip out to the West Coast. And if you thought Randolph’s head would be the only one chopped, you were wrong. In a massive purge, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto were also fired. Jerry Manuel will serve as interim manager, with three other men joining the staff (mostly promoted from the minors).

I just can’t understand the timing of this move. Why now? Why after a win? Why the day after the team started a road trip? Why not last week, why not after getting swept by the Padres? The timing doesn’t make sense to me in either the short-run or the big picture. If you were going to fire the guy, I have maintained, you should have done it after last year’s collapse. That was enough ammo to bring out the execution squad. It’s like a death penalty; you preside over such a debacle, you should be gone. But if you decide to hang onto the guy and let him try again next season, give him a legit shot. Don’t just bag him and make his life miserable for 70 games with the team injury-plagued and hovering around .500. What would you prefer, to be up 15 at this point like last year and have everyone recounting stories of the collapse?

Since the Mets decided to give Willie another shot, which was probably a bad idea to begin with, they did Willie and themselves a serious disservice by not giving him the full year. Now things are a mess and a new group of guys are coming in. At least the speculation about job security will be gone for the moment. Additionally, who’s to say the below average start was all on Willie this year? I do believe that Pedro, El Duque, and Moises Alou were all Omar Minaya signings. Aging players who spent serious time on the D.L. this year can’t exactly help Randolph on the field. And Willie’s not the one who signed Delgado to a big deal, a player who’s massively underperformed. Sure people can rave about the payroll, but that doesn’t mean it was all money well spent. Some of this falls on Omar, and if the team fails to right the ship, he’ll be gone, too.

Note: In his press conference on Tuesday to explain the process, Minaya said that he decided on Sunday night he was going to fire Randolph but wanted to sleep on the decision. Minaya didn’t change his mind and by Monday morning he was set on firing Willie, and only waited until after the game to do so. Minaya also didn’t show any favoritism towards individual reporters, sending a blanket statement to the press.

Hank Steinbrenner: NL ‘Needs to Grow Up and Join 21st Century’

George who? For anyone that was worried the sauciness erupting from the Yankees front office would disappear when George stepped out of the picture, they sure have had their share of relief in the form of Hank who has stepped right in without missing a beat. The guy’s not afraid to bash anyone or rip anything, and funny enough, he’s got a take on damn near every subject. In essence, he’s Curt Schilling without the fastball. And check out the bomb he dropped on over half of MLB in response to Chien-Ming Wang getting injured running the bases in Houston:

“My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century,” Steinbrenner said in Tampa, Fla. “They need to grow up and join the 21st century.

“Am I (mad) about it? Yes,” Steinbrenner added. “I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s.”

As an American League guy, I can’t agree with Steiny more. I’m all about the offense. Who the heck wants to watch pitchers bat anyway? If they’re that good, the team won’t have to use a D.H. anyway. Surely Steinbrenner’s outburst is a wholly irrational response to the situation, but it certainly has merit. Gotta love that guy. Is there any wonder why Sporting News has decided to make him a featured writer? Tell us how you really feel next time, Hank.

(via FanHouse)