I have to admit that I’m surprised and disappointed reading Willie Randolph’s comments to Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record today. The premise of the column is Randolph trying to figure out why Mets fans don’t like him. He claims that SNY puts him on camera in a way that is provocative to fans, and racism in general.
On SNY Randolph says:
They’re the artists, I’m the canvas,” Randolph said. “They paint the picture the way they want to. They want to show me when somebody gives up a home run or somebody makes an error, so they want to see me [using profanity].
“Well, my players are watching the monitors in the bullpen going, ‘Look at Skip, he’s cursing us out.’ That’s not how I lead. But when the game is over, I’m [on them]. ‘And why don’t you turn over a couple of [food] spreads?’ I’ve done that. You might not know it.
“Why [isn’t] SNY shooting me when I’m ready to go down the dugout clapping my hands and patting guys on the butt, schooling them during the game? I’m on the top step every game. … Why don’t you show that side of me so people can say, ‘Wow, jeez, Willie’s fiery’? … You watch any manager in baseball, you see him look like a bump on the log sitting there. They don’t move, they don’t talk. I’m as animated and as demonstrative and as involved and as intense as any manager in baseball.
On racism Randolph says:
Is it racial?” Randolph asked. “Huh? It smells a little bit.”
Asked directly if he believes black managers are held to different standards than their white counterparts, Randolph said: “I don’t know how to put my finger on it, but I think there’s something there. Herman Edwards did pretty well here and he won a couple of playoff [games], and they were pretty hard on Herm. Isiah [Thomas] didn’t do a great job, but they beat up Isiah pretty good. … I don’t know if people are used to a certain figurehead. There’s something weird about it.
“I think it’s very important … that I handle myself in a way that the [African-American managers] coming behind me will get the opportunities, too …
It’s amazing that Randolph would put this much thought into a topic that’s completely out of his control. He needs to worry less about fans liking him and more about winning games.
I’m sure that there is some element of racism out there. I’ve never heard or read anyone say it overtly but I’m sure that it still exists.
The bottom line for me is that Randolph seems like a genuinely good person. But he hasn’t maximized the talent that he’s been given. Is it all his fault? No, of course not. He’s not the one coming out of the bullpen to blow games or not hitting with runners in scoring position. But you can’t fire all of the players to shake things up and find a combination that works. You can fire the manager though.