Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I've been a Willie Randolph fan for a long time, and I was thrilled when he was tapped to helm my Metropolitans. For years Willie was the African-American coach that got interviewed when teams needed to make it look like they hadn't already decided on some white guy, and it has to have rankled. Joe Torre's tenure as Yankee skipper meant that he wasn't going to be promoted in-house anytime soon, so it must have felt pretty sweet for the Brooklyn-born Randolph to get the call from Flushing Meadows. The Mets were making a lot of good calls-- they were spending money on exciting players, and doing a lot of the things that you'd wish the Yankees would do.

And then they fell apart. Part of it was that, in the inevitable way of these things, they were suddenly struck old. I really don't know what the other parts were, but when a team folds the way the Mets did down the stretch last season someone is going to take the fall, and it isn't usually going to be anyone on the roster. If Willie had been the manager of a lot of other clubs he'd have been done at the end of last October. Maybe the Mets looked around then and didn't see anyone they liked better, and decided to stand pat for the time being; maybe they gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided to to see how things played out this season. They went out and got some more (old) pitching, but it didn't help, and now Willie is out.

Here's the thing-- if I'm Willie Randolph, I'm pretty justified in seeing race as an issue that pretty much underlies everything. It doesn't seem to me that the decision to fire him was race-based-- he got fired under the same circumstances that would get just about everyone except Gene Mauch or Tommy Lasorda fired. But having had his shot, if Willie doesn't find his way to the end of another team's dugout bench in a year or so, I'd say he'd be justified in thinking that race was still in the picture. He has taken a team to within one game of reaching the World Series-- even if that doesn't mean job security, it should mean that he will be an attractive candidate for another owner to consider.

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