Former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson talks Zambrano trade, and how he found out he was being fired

WASHINGTON ? APRIL 13: Pitching coach Rick Peterson
WASHINGTON ? APRIL 13: Pitching coach Rick Peterson /
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On the Mets’ culture and how he find out he was being fired

Firing someone is never easy, but Mets general manager Omar Minaya found one of the worst ways of doing it when he decided to relieve manager Willie Randolph and Peterson of their duties after the first game of a six-game road trip to the west coast.

The Mets fired both men on June 17, 2008 after the Mets defeated the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 9-6. The organization had had enough of Randolph and Peterson, and they waited to fly them out west to fire them.

According to Peterson though, he knew back in New York that it was going to happen thanks to longtime Mets beat writer Adam Rubin spilling the beans.

"“After the game was over (before flying to Los Angeles in June 2008 when he was fired), and the rumors were getting stronger, most of the players left, I was all dressed and ready to walk out, I was watching Tiger in the US Open. They break for commercial and Adam Rubin taps me on the shoulder. He said you got a minute? As I look behind him, all the media is still there. I was like wow, that’s odd. He said, have they told you about your situation yet? I said, no what about it? He kind of dropped his head, shook his head…he goes, ‘we heard that you’re not getting on that bus tonight.’ I said really? We get on the plane and I said to Willie, you know what’s going on? Because this is what Adam Rubin said to me. I said if you do, I’m going to call Omar right now and get off the plane. He can call me on the beach tomorrow. You know I don’t need to fly to Anaheim for this. And he said, I swear to god I don’t know anything Rick, and he didn’t. We get back to the hotel that night after the game and I get a call saying Omar needs to see you down in his room. I knew what I was walking down there for. I had not known that he had already fired Willie when I went down to Omar’s room. So that was really about it. It was just so awkward.”"

Most beat writers have inside sources, but it’s completely and totally embarrassing as a fan to hear that your team’s management acted in such an utterly classless way. Again, there’s nothing wrong with firing a manager or coach, but don’t drag it out. When you decide to do it, do it. Don’t wait until 3am on the west coast to pull the trigger in hopes that you’ll avoid some media backlash.

All in all, this just highlighted a bigger problem with the Mets organization. Peterson identified it as a toxic, backstabbing environment.

"“I was literally sitting in my Manhattan apartment thinking about all these things that were going on internally in the organization, you know, just going God Almighty this is biggest backstabbing, most toxic place I have ever been. I said you know what? This is killing me. This is killing me being in this toxic place every single day and from that point, I just wasn’t happy there and every day I would drive to Shea Stadium and the closer I got to Shea Stadium, I would have knots in my stomach literally…just going like God Almighty this is like an awful environment. Everybody pointing fingers. Everybody talking behind everybody’s back.”"

The hope is obviously that as the years past and the regimes changed from Minaya to Sandy Alderson that professionalism has returned to Queens. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to look back and see that what appears on the surface may not always be accurate in reality.

Next: Four great Mets performances from past All-Star Games

Who knows if one day we’ll look back at the 2017 season and the debacle of injuries and miscommunication that have happened throughout the season and learn more about what happened behind the scenes.