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What The Fonz?

While interviews continue to proceed to determine who will collaborate most collegially with non-uniformed front office personnel in the evolving so as to be unrecognizable to the ghost of John McGraw role of field manager, I have a question not for or about Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Joe Girardi, Tim Bogar or anybody else still considered a candidate to make us completely forget Mickey Callaway, but regarding another recently vacant skippering position:

Why was Edgardo Alfonzo dismissed as manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones? [1]

Word seeped out last week that Fonzie would not be back in Coney Island to follow up on his New York-Penn League championship-guiding performance — and not because he was being groomed for bigger and better things up the Met chain. No official announcement was made, but the reported phrase of explanation, via Mike Puma of the Post, was Brodie Van Wagenen’s regime wanted to fill the role with one of “its own people”.

Fonzie is a Mets icon. He’s our own people. I’m surprised Brodie the GM of the same organization that has long been graced by the presence of Edgardo Alfonzo hasn’t crossed paths with the man.

My instinct is to be disgusted with the Mets the way I was disgusted with the Mets when they didn’t bother keeping Alfonzo a Met player in December of 2002, but I’ve also been straining to see this from the “its own people” angle. Was there some intangible element Fonzie didn’t bring to managing the Cyclones that the BVW crew values? We know he brought the leadership that resulted in a trophy. Was that just a coincidence? I ask that sincerely. Was Fonzie not developing players while he was winning with them? Is there a burgeoning “Met way” of doing things that Fonzie is somehow viewed as incapable of disseminating? I’m not asking that rhetorically. If Van Wagenen is overseeing a restructuring of the minor leagues and has a certain kind of manager in mind that Edgardo Alfonzo definitively isn’t, then maybe I can squint and see how a change was in order.

Shy of the traditional whisper campaign that usually denigrates whichever Met is suddenly an ex-Met, that’s the best answer I can come up with, and it’s not much. It seems ludicrous on the surface and several layers beneath it. Admittedly, I didn’t hang on every pitch of every Cyclones game in 2019, but I also didn’t pick up on any whispering that the Cyclones were winning in spite of Alfonzo, or that Alfonzo was managing virulently against the desired organizational tide. Did he roll his eyes one too many times during an analytical presentation? Did he toss a printout of projected prospect tendencies to the ground and do to it what Lou Brown did to Roger Dorn’s contract in Major League? Has Fonzie ever done anything to piss off anybody?

If another manager who finally brought an undisputed title to the crown jewel of the Met system had been told he wasn’t going to manage for any Met affiliate next season, I honestly might not have noticed. But this is Fonzie. We know Fonzie. We remember him as one of the most diligent players we ever had. He was fundamentals incarnate, a teammate beyond reproach, a quiet leader in a tumultuous, thrilling era of Mets baseball. It was sad when the business of free agency sent him elsewhere. It was heartwarming to have him back in a dugout under the Met umbrella. Then he adds a flourish to the ideal scenario by winning.

That’s not enough to be this organization’s own people?

Fonzie will stick around as a Mets Ambassador, which seems to involve making community-minded appearances; smiling in the vicinity of Mr. Met; and popping out of the shadows to present casino gift certificates to lucky fans who guess “Edgardo Alfonzo” as the answer to between-innings trivia quizzes. I’ll take Fonzie in that Met capacity over no Met capacity. I’d hate to think there’d be a rift that would keep our all-time second baseman (as named on the 40th and 50th Anniversary teams) away from Flushing. It’s always a downer when you see someone you loved as a player viewed as utterly disposable as an instructor. But it seems a waste of a splendid baseball mind to confine Alfonzo to only ceremonial duties. It’s baffling that a champion be told he’s somehow not the cut of an organization’s jib after just having brought that organization tangible splendor.

He’s Fonzie. C’mon. What gives?