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Controversial Randolph Firing Prompts Special Posthumous Edition of Meet the Press

Mets owners on hot seat as host Tim Russert conducts first interview since his death.

Tim Russert

In his first posthumous interview, Tim Russert bears down on the Wilpons for their clumsy handling of the Randolph firing.

(Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) -- Four days after his shocking death, Tim Russert, a devout Catholic, was amazed to find the afterlife almost exactly as he was lead to believe it would be: the pearly gates, the well-oiled bureaucracy, the easy pace, the high-minded conversations with people long-dead. With the place sized up, the former political operative went about working “the higher ups,” attempting to secure himself a position roughly equivalent to the one he once so conspicuously enjoyed. Told that the “Russert seat” has long been filled by the fabled inventor of the Socratic method --Socrates himself (“the dean” of the celestial press corps) -- Russert resigned himself to covering local news, weather and sports, hoping to one day work himself back to the politics desk.

Russert’s first assignment was to corral the owner of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, and his son Jeff Wilpon, in the aftermath of their clumsy – some say cruel -- firing of manager Willie Randolph, who was a dead man walking for weeks – even months -- on end. The axe fell last night, as the Mets began their west coast swing. Without missing a beat, Russert seamlessly segued into classic Meet the Press (MTP) mode, as he engaged the visibly nervous Wilpons. The transcript follows:

TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: the Mets win their first game on their west coast trip, 9-6, for their third victory in four games, though they remain one game under .500 and a disappointing fourth in the NL East. By firing manager Willie Randolph, what do the Wilpons hope to achieve? Wasn’t the time to fire Randolph last year after the Mets suffered one of the most dramatic late-season collapses in the annals of professional team sports? And is the public humiliation of the proud Randolph a permanent a stain on this once comical, now proud franchise? Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, welcome to MEET THE PRESS, Special Edition.

WILPONS: Good morning, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: How close are we to war?

WILPONS: War? I don’t see this escalating beyond a clubhouse skirmish or two.

MR. RUSSERT: My apologies. Are we any closer to a championship now than before, with Randolph gone and Jerry Manuel in?

WILPONS: While we appreciate the work Willie has done, we believe a change needed to be made. We have every confidence that Jerry and his staff will get us over the hump.

MR. RUSSERT: Take a look at this. On October 4th, 2007, you – meaning Fred – gave Willie Randolph full assurance that he’ll be coming back as Mets manager after they blew a seven-game lead for one of the greatest late-season collapses of all time. Again on May 18th and as recently as June 14th, you gave Willie your vote of confidence. What changed? Why now? How will your explain this waffling and clear cut case of hypocrisy – extreme even by political standards -- to your fan base?

WILPONS: Tim, as a New Yorker surely you understand that there’s little tolerance for losing. Some people think we drew this out to humiliate Willie and his family…not true. We were actually drawing it out to torture Omar (Minaya, their embattled GM), who wanted everyone to think it was his decision.

MR. RUSSERT: Why did you travel 3,000 miles west just to fire your manager and his coaches? With fans getting squeezed at work and at the ballpark, how do you justify such a blatant – indeed arrogant -- waste of jet fuel?

WILPONS: Yes, we thought of that. Which is why July 21st is carpool day at Shea. Bring more than five people to the game in your car, present us with proof, and you’ll get a commemorative Gil Hodges bobble-head doll.

MR. RUSSERT: The best manager the Mets ever had. That will be the last word. Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, thank you. Start your day tomorrow on "Today" with Matt and Meredith, and the "NBC Nightly News" with Brian Williams. That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, heck, up here if it's Tuesday, it's MEET THE PRESS.

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