Minaya began the first press conference by attempting to explain the process and reason for Bernazard's dismissal. He told the gathered reporters that he made the decision to let Bernazard go, after reviewing the conclusions of a Mets internal investigation that lasted nearly a month. He noted that it is "very important to say that this investigation was done by the Human Resources department," which he claimed started before Rubin's articles about Bernazard ran in the daily news. Bernazard was let go because
1. there were "interpersonal things that were against what the organization believes in." Translation: he treated people badly.
2. Minaya pointed out that "it was multiple things... the investigation talked to a lot of people." Translation: there was a lot more that could come out to hurt the Mets.
3. Minaya admitted that the reports in the Daily News forced the Mets to "expedite" their own investigation. "When those [articles] came out, I felt that we needed to have a more thorough investigation ... I mean more expedited through human resources."
Translation: barring the recent media scrutiny, Bernazard would still be employed by the Mets. Moreover, Minaya admits for the only time that the News reports altered the scope of the Mets internal process.
The next big revelation of the press conference was Minaya admitting, "I was very surprised by some of the things in this report." Personally, I've hired people and trained people for a variety of jobs. Whenever I do, I monitor their performance both by examining their performance as closely as my own responsability permit, AND by soliciting the opinions of others who my young hires work with and for. For Minaya to admit to being surprised by the revelations in the HR reports about his chief lieutenant is well, surprising.
But the fun was just beginning. Minaya then accused Adam Rubin of pushing an agenda:
"Once the reports came out... earlier in the process, I had to say to myself, "wow, these things are coming out" and I say this because coming from Adam Rubin, and Adam, you gotta understand this, has lobbied for a player development position. He has lobbied myself, he has lobbied Tony, so when these things came out, ... I had to think about it."Minaya wouldn't make the next step to Rubin's own motives, but the implied conclusion was clear.
Rubin has flatly denied seeking a player development job with the Mets. He has called the insinuation that he acted unprofessional "despicable." Challenging another person's credibility is an enormous accusation. While there are many writers and reporters who may disagree with Minaya's player personnel moves, none would accuse him of failing to attempt to make the Mets better as best as he knows how.
Later, the scene shifted up to the press box, where Minaya, with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon at his side, began press conference #2 by issuing the following non-apology: "I want to apologize for what I raised in the forum. That was not a proper forum to raise those issues. In bringing it up over there, those issues, I don't think that was right." He didn't retract the story about Rubin "lobbying" for a job, merely that he brought it up in the wrong place.
Worse, Minaya now changed his story. In the initial press conference, he accused Rubin of asking him for a job directly. Now, in the press box, Minaya said, of Rubin "this was a person, who was in my mind, what I had heard was lobbying for a job at that time." Emphasis added. This is a very different accusation, that Minaya had "heard" that Rubin was lobbying for a job.
It should be troubling for Minaya, that his boss, Wilpon, saw nothing wrong with the conversations Wilpon has had with Rubin about career paths. "What Adam said is correct," Wilpon said, "We did have a conversation on career advice. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, for Adam to come to me with that. ... We were having an impromptu conversation somewhere. Adam was doing what anyone else does. I get a call a week probably on somebody looking for career advice."
Two more things strike me as very off about the day's proceedings. The first is Minaya's dodge behind the false propriety of an investigation conducted by the Mets Human Resources Department. In dealing with one of his own top advisors, Minaya should have taken an active role in background check. Leaving the job to HR is an extreme abdication of his personal responsibility to oversee the Mets' Baseball Operations. How difficult would it have been for Minaya to make the phone calls to determine the truth of the various published reports and those filed internally by other employees that supposedly initiated the team's investigation prior to the Daily News' articles? That's how many hours of work on the phone? Aside from Omar Minaya, there are 12 other executives who hold titles beginning with Vice President or Executive Vice President. The highest ranking HR Met official in the team's media guide is listed as a Human Resources Manager.
The final striking thing about the day's events was that in the second press conference, Jeff Wilpon appeared alongside Omar Minaya. In doing media relations for baseball teams, I have made mistakes of varying degrees - everyone has. Only once, when I was 22, in my first job in baseball after college, did my boss get involved to sort things out. Not surprisingly, I lost some autonomy after that incident and initially had to run more things through my superior. Eventually, I gained back his trust. Minaya is not 22. The Mets cannot afford any more learning on the job. When the boss has to assist with damage control, the situation has become quite dire indeed.
All quotes here came from my own transcriptions. SNY carried the first press conference live and WFAN has archived presser #2 from the pressbox here.