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Voice of the 'Fan

The Morale Killer

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Once upon a time, Tony Bernazard & Jerry Manuel played in the same infield for the Chicago White Sox. Today, Manuel manages the New York Mets, while Bernazard is one of his bosses, as an VP-Player Development. Bernazard, if you believe the New York tabloid press, had a lot to do with Willie Randolph being booted as Mets manager 13 months ago, enabling Manuel, who had some success piloting the White Sox a few years back, to move into the manager's office. While Manuel charms the press with his good natured assessment of his team's plight, Bernazard has been nothing more than a slimy snake in the grass, if the rumors are true. They say he has the ears of father & son owners Fred & Jeff Wilpon, but even they may need to rethink his value to the team, based on a recent episode that hit the back pages of the tabloids today.

According to a report in the NY Daily News, Bernazard went way too far in berating the team's Eastern League club in Binghamton after a loss. Binghamton is last in their division. Buffalo is likewise dwelling in the basement in the International League in their first year as a Mets affiliate. Granted, the injuries that have turned the big club into a M*A*S*H unit have depleted the farm clubs such that they can't be contenders at the moment, but one wonders what Bernazard was thinking when he reportedly removed his shirt and challenged the entire team to a fight. If that doesn't destroy the morale on a team, what does?

On the surface, this incident adds fuel to the argument that Bernazard, not Manuel or GM Omar Minaya, has to go. Like, yesterday. While it is known that the Wilpons may be gun-shy about bringing on any A-list talent by the trade deadline because of financial issues brought upon by being swindled by Bernard Madoff, Bernazard may be just as guilty of keeping the purse strings closed, as if he's plotting to rid the Mets of his ex-teammate. And for what purpose?

It's also come out in the wash that Bernazard nearly torpedoed the Mets' chances of ever acquiring currently disabled slugger Carlos Delgado. During the 2004-05 offseason, it is alleged, Bernazard played the race card in trying to recruit Delgado, trying to sign him more as an attraction to the Hispanic community than as a man. Poor business sense, yes, but after a year in Florida, Delgado signed with the Mets after all, but may be gone after the season as a free agent.

For someone who wasn't exactly an A-list player during his career, which also included a stop in Montreal, if my memory serves me correctly, Bernazard strikes me as a power-mad executive who thinks he's bulletproof. He's not, and it's high time the Wilpons realized this. They can't make Minaya and Manuel the scapegoats if the Mets don't make the playoffs. They need to reassure the kids on the farm that, aside from Bernazard, they are a class organization from top to bottom.

Had this incident involved a Yankee executive, you can bet the farm the Steinbrenner family would've already wished him well in his future endeavors, especially when ol' George was at the peak of his powers. But as long as Bernazard continues to present himself as a self-serving executive drunk with power, he'll continue to keep the Mets from achieving their goals. Which makes one wonder if he's secretly on the Phillies' payroll, too. It wouldn't surprise me at all at this point.

For the sake of the team, and it's future, Tony Bernazard has to go. Now.


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