In the aftermath of what had to be considered a wildly successful Subway Sweep over the Yankees this weekend, Mets manager Willie Randolph emerged from the “why are you interviewing the closer?” soap opera..and segued to a critique of SNY, as quoted by the Bergen Record’s Ian O’Connor.
“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.”
Randolph excluded Ozzie Guillen from the conversation, but wanted to know why the traits often admired in the calm, cool and collected likes of Joe Torre are portrayed as flaws in Torre’s former third base coach.
“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.”
Edwards, as Randolph might not recall, was 5-15 during his final twenty games with the Jets. It would be unfair to say there’s no racial component whatsoever to the increasing loud chants of “Fire Willie”, though not everyone yelling is white. While I’ll presume O’Connor raised the Torre comparison rather than Randolph, winning 4 World Series in 5 seasons had as much to do with goodwill towards Torre as the color of his skin. Keep in mind that when Randolph succeeded Art Howe — a manager whose unpopularity rivaled that of Isiah Thomas — his hiring was mostly hailed by fans and media alike.
By contrast, the Daily News greeted Torre’s arrival in the Bronx with the slur, “Clueless Joe”.