25th Hour Firing

June 19th, 2008

It’s been a bad week for Bill Bavasi and Willie Randolph, the now former managers of the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets, respectively. The firings of both managers were expected amid disappointing seasons. But, from a media perspective they were each handled very differently.

On Monday morning, Bavasi was let go from his position as manager of the last-placed team in baseball. In typical fashion, his firing was promptly followed by a press conference where he and the team’s CEO answered questions and gave insight into the direction the team will take in the near future.

That’s the traditional route. The same can’t be said for Willie Randolph’s swift departure from the Mets.

On Tuesday morning at 3:00 AM EST, in a move that’s been scrutinized by media outlets around the country, Willie Randolph and two of his coaches were fired while the team was in Los Angeles. To make it worse, the Mets had just won two in a row and four out of their last six. The decision to sack Randolph in the middle of the night, with no announcement and no reporters available to ask questions and cover the story, was a PR and fan-relations nightmare. Instead of holding a press conference, controlling the message and letting reporters hear both from team ownership and the fired manager, they did just the opposite. Mets VP Omar Minaya canned Randolph in his LA hotel room in the middle of the night. This not only angered fans, since it happened while they were sleeping, but it also painted the team and its ownership in a bad light to the media. Minaya is taking serious heat for his involvement.

So, what would have been the best way to fire Willie Randolph? Minaya and the rest of the Mets ownership should have waited until the team returned to New York, held a press conference, and handled it the old fashioned way. Firing someone is never a pleasant situation, but handling it with grace, honesty and tact always beats out dishonesty and trickery.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism, Public Relations
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