Open Mic: Dear Willie Randolph, Man Up...
A few weeks ago, Willie Randolph raised the ire of already perturbed Mets fans by suggesting that race was a factor in his current standing on the managerial hot seat.
However, like most others who have ever played the race card—in sports or otherwise—Randolph takes a potentially plausible point and ruins his own argument.
First and foremost, Randolph is off his rocker if he really believes race is or will be the determining factor if or when he's fired.
After choking in the most grandiose fashion at the end of last year, Randolph needed to have a good year out of his team this year. So far, with the team continuing to struggle and providing a Dynasty-like state of constant drama in the clubhouse, even a five-year-old could understand why Randolph's team is in trouble.
Then again, if one of his examples of a guy getting run out of town due to race is Isiah Thomas, perhaps the tight fit of his Mets cap has skewed his sense of reality a bit.
Has race played a a factor in the firings of managers? Of course.
I still say it was unfair that Dusty Baker was run out of Chicago in the manner he was—especially considering how bad the pitching and depth was during his last year. Then, suddenly, with the hiring of Lou Piniella, the Cubs felt like spending money and actually constructing a championship-caliber team.
Was it 100 percent about race though? Not at all.
Baker didn't do himself any favors by being so dependent on veteran players—but I always felt on the inside that Baker was set up for failure after the Cubs failed to make a World Series bid in '03.
The point is that while racism does still exist, it isn't the obvious reason the way Randolph makes it out to be. The subtleties are such that now it's in the portrayal of athletes, not so much the coaches.
For example, when you look at the more popular black athletes in the NBA and the NFL, the emphasis—especially in terms of marketing—is always on "street cred." Perhaps it's only the edgy personalities nowadays that sell, but I've always found it a bit intriguing that a large number of today's black athletes are viewed in such a small-minded manner.
The NFL has been notorious for having a lack of minority head coaches, a problem that won't go away anytime soon considering the small, tight-knit circle of coaches and coordinators that continue to be recycled.
The NBA also has a curiously low percentage of minority coaches, considering the large number of black players in the league—most recent coach to be left out in the cold? Avery Johnson.
But all that doesn't necessarily equate to it being about race. It's not a simple math equation, but a rather complex issue based on an even more complicated social history.
Do the leagues need to do better? Yes of course—there's always room for improvement. But, that doesn't mean that every hiring and firing is purely based on race.
Moreover, in an organization where the GM is from the Dominican Republic, and a roster as diverse as the New York population the Mets represent, it's hard to believe that Randolph would get the axe because of race.
Maybe he knows something we don't—maybe that epic collapse at the end of 2007 was really just a conspiracy so that he could be fired.
Then again, maybe Willie Randolph just needs to get over himself and realize that instead of misusing the race card, he should accept the well-deserved blame and man up.
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