Willie’s Still Waiting For a Sign

092807 koblinweb2 Willies Still Waiting For a SignAfter another hellish Mets loss last night that capped what may be the most dramatic collapse in franchise history, Willie Randolph, again, stood behind his players.

“I’m never going to question the character of my team,” he said during a post-game press conference. “Just cause you lose or get into a rut doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your character.

“I know these guys and they want this very badly. Right now, it’s just tough to get a win.”

He said he had a brief conversation with the team after a loss last night that evened the Mets up with the Phillies. Speaking to his team was a departure from Randolph’s usual aversion to team meetings, but his message was largely the same.

“Stay real positive or upbeat and just make sure they know you’re behind them 100 percent,” he said last night when describing it.

It’s what Randolph has preached throughout the slump. “I don’t want to change anything,” he said to me in Miami last weekend. “I just have to be myself, really. And that’s really all I have.”

That approach has been popular with the players, but it hasn’t been enough to avert what’s shaping up as a historic disaster. Earlier this week, he said his players were locked in a playoff intensity, but the way team leaders described themselves—bored, complacent, flat—and the way they’ve played indicate the opposite.

The Mets’ collapse, culminating in the loss last night that dropped them into a tie with the Phillies for the division lead, has been a long, drudging two-week affair in which the same sad story seemed to play out over and over again. Randolph won’t have much choice now but to shake things up.

“I have a lot of confidence in my guys,” he insisted. “They’ve shown me before they can step up.”

Maybe he should ask them to show him again.