Friday, July 24, 2009

Tony Bernazard Creating Huge HR Problems for the New York Mets

The Mets need to fire Tony Bernazard now because his continued employment is turning into a PR and HR disaster. Via ESPN:
Bernazard, the team's vice president for player development, pulled off his shirt and challenged the Double-A Binghamton Mets in the tirade, about 10 days before the All-Star break. He in particular targeted middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, according to the report.
And what did he say to him? According to the New York Daily News:
Bernazard particularly went after middle infield prospect Jose Coronado, using a slang term associated with a woman's anatomy, a source indicated
The News reported Tuesday that Bernazard, one of GM Omar Minaya's top lieutenants, recently erupted at the organization's manager of baseball operations. During a game at Citi Field, scouts took their customary seats in a row behind home plate. Bernazard showed up during play and wanted a seat occupied by a D-Backs scout. Bernazard's deputy, already seated in the row, suggested to the Mets VP that he wait until the half-inning ended, to minimize the disruption. Bernazard ripped into his deputy with a profanity-laced tirade as scouts and patrons watched in disbelief.
That's not good. The Mets are only now conducting the investigation. This shows a real failure of understanding what is going on in your own organization, especially by Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. The New York Post's Joel Sherman agrees:
Here is the question that Omar Minaya needed to be asked: This incident with Bernazard allegedly challenging the Double-A team to a fight, if you knew about it soon after it occurred a few weeks ago why did you not begin an investigation then? If you didn't know about it, what kind of organization are you running that this information did not flow to the GM and owners, but rather to reporters first? Either way this speaks horribly of the Mets. They either knew and did nothing to address this unprofessional, egregious behavior, or they didn't know, which means their front office is filled with see-no-evil buffoons.

Saying you are doing an investigation now feels like something the Mets were advised to do by their behind-the-scenes p.r. firm as a way to look on top of a situation that they are not really on top of. Again, with the Mets, it is too much about giving off the right perception, rather than doing the right thing.

To me this "investigation" also feels like a stall tactic designed to see what the public/media reaction is to Bernazard. My gut says that Jeff Wilpon does not want to fire someone with whom he has grown close. But he will wait to see if Bernazard has become untenable. Thus, the "investigation" will be more an examination of what public/media sentiment is and if more ugly stuff is dug up against Bernazard, a man who has made quite a few enemies while a Met executive.

Because if what is reported to have occurred has occurred, what do you need an investigation for? At that point, ownership just has to determine do they feel that this behavior is reason for dismissal or not.

And if that wasn't enough to get Bernazard fired, word today from The New York Times says that Bernazard also engaged on Friday in a verbal confrontation (that almost escalated to a physical confrontation) with the Mets All-Star closer, Francisco Rodriguez:

According to people on the bus, Rodriguez made a friendly gesture toward family members of his fellow reliever Pedro Feliciano that Bernazard might have misinterpreted. They argued in Spanish, and the dispute escalated to the point that there seemed to be a danger of a physical altercation, one witness said.

All this is not only a P.R. disaster for the Mets, but also an H.R. disaster. Challenging many members of the organization to fight or getting into an almost-physical altercation with a member of the organization cannot be tolerated or allowed to happen. The Mets are a baseball team in disarray but also seem to be an organization with a lack of, well, organization. It seems like there is too much cronyism, too much allowed to occur.
The reason behind the tirade against the minor league team was supposedly because of underage drinking. As the vice president for player development, Bernazard's job was to stop them from underage drinking or maybe suggest some counseling. Instead, he challenged them to a WWE rumble. If he is allowed to remain an employee of the Mets, what message does this send to the rest of the organization about proper behavior? What if a player did this to a fan? This is a situation that needs to be handled right now by the Mets before it escalates any further.

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