Paging Mr. Randolph…

The axe finally fell on Mets’ manager Willie Randolph Tuesday.

That’s no real surprise, as the Mets and their $140 million payroll are sitting at one game under .500 at 34-35, six-and-a-half games back of the Phillies in the National League East.

Frankly, I’m surprised he even started the season at the helm, having overseen the most epic collapse in history last season, losing a seven-game lead in the East over the Phillies with a 5-12 swoon.

So the fact that Randolph finds himself in the unemployment line isn’t a real shocker.

It’s the way it went down that’s a bit of a head scratcher.

The 54-year-old skipper coached the team Monday night in Anaheim as the Mets clipped the Angels, 8-6.

He then met with the media, fielded questions about the game and how, after watching his team win three of its last four, suggested that this momentum is something his squad could build on.

And that may be true, but Randolph will be watching on TV like the rest of us.

General manager Omar Minaya fired Randolph at the team’s hotel about two hours after the game, and the team issued a press release at 3:14 a.m. Eastern time.

Considering that the Mets just completed a six-game homestand, it sort of makes you wonder why Minaya and Mets’ chairman Jeff Wilpon waited until the team was 3,000 miles away to pull the trigger.

OK, maybe they didn’t want to can the guy on Father’s Day, but honestly, do you think this makes him feel any better?

New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but I’d wager that most Metropolitan fans were snoozing when their team whacked Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto.

Ever wonder why the first base coach always seems to go down with the manager? But that’s another story.

No, what happened Monday night was cruel to Randolph. Why make the guy sit there and face the media when you know you’re going to fire him two hours later?

It was also underhanded. Why fire a manager at 3:14 a.m.? To keep it out of the morning papers? They do have the Internet in the Big Apple, right?

It was also a act of an organization afraid of its own shadow.

Have some guts Omar Minaya. Get a spine Jeff Wilpon. Call a press conference. Answer the tough questions.

Tell your fans why you let Randolph answer questions about his job security for the last month when you were planning on firing him?

Bench coach Jerry Manuel will be the interim manager, charged with changing the tenor of a season that just went from sour to bizarre.

Hopefully, he’ll remember to look over his shoulder. Or at least sleep at a different hotel than his general manager.


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