Today recently fired Mets manager Willie Randolph took over two pages of the Daily News to tell his version of what happened on Tuesday, when Omar Minaya released him after nearly four years of service. It was a surprisingly candid account from the first black manager in New York baseball history, who had recently gotten into trouble for oversharing with the press. He has no one to piss off anymore, but even so, his account was polite and respectful. “Call me naïve if you want, but I never saw it coming,” he explains, describing the meeting during which Omar let him go:
As Omar went on and on, looking very uncomfortable, this weird chill started to course through by body. I could feel myself going cold. He kept talking, almost stammering, and the chill got worse. Suddenly, it occurred to me that maybe he was talking about me. Maybe I was the one about to get whacked.
Finally, I stopped him. I looked right at him.
“Omar, are you firing me?” I asked. He looked away for a minute and then met my eyes. “Yeah, I’m going to make a move,” he said. “It’s a hard decision, but I have to make it.”
As he left, Minaya gave him “a little parting gift,” which turned out to be the section of his contract that explained that if he said anything “detrimental about the team” to the press, it could cost him dearly. Yet three days later, here he is, explaining in detail the unraveling of his relationship with his hometown team. It’s a sad story from a manager who many fans feel was treated poorly, despite his spectacularly uneven recent record — but was it the right thing to do? At the end of his piece, Randolph points out that it took him “ten years to get a big-league managing job.” “I hope and pray there will be another such opportunity in my future,” he adds, going on to extol his body of work. So what is Randolph doing here — playing the victim? Simply trying to explain what happened to his confused fans?
Or is this his message to owners everywhere that he’s still in business?