Friday, June 20, 2008

Willie's Story

This is interesting.....and different......

From the New York Daily News:

Willie Randolph opens up after his recent firing as Mets manager

Friday, June 20th 2008, 4:00 AM

Three and a half years and 555 games after it began, my dream of bringing a championship to the New York Mets officially expired a few minutes after midnight in Suite 1602 of the Westin Hotel in Costa Mesa, Calif.

You've heard of Black Friday? Well, this was my Black Tuesday.

Call me naive if you want, but I never saw it coming. I was sitting on a sofa across from Omar Minaya, the Mets' general manager and the man who hired me.

Omar was baseball's first Hispanic GM, and on Nov. 4, 2004, he made me the first African-American manager in New York baseball history. The kid from Queens and the kid from Brooklyn doing some pioneering together, hoping to lead the team they grew up rooting for back to glory.

It was a sweet, storybook day. It's too bad there wasn't a storybook ending. I remember how upbeat and excited Omar sounded when he hired me; he could barely get out any words at all.

That was then. Now, on Black Tuesday, we'd just beaten the tough Los Angeles Angels, playing one of our best games of the season. Mets VP Tony Bernazard came into my office.

"Omar wants to see you in his room when you get back to the hotel," he said.

"Okay," I replied. There had been a slew of stories in recent days that a couple of my coaches, Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto, were about to be fired. All the stories were leaked by "Met front-office sources."

It got to the point over the last month or so that whenever I saw the word "sources" in a story, I knew either me or someone on my staff was going to be declared on the verge of unemployment.

Anyway, when I walked into the room Omar asked me to sit down. He sat right across from me. He started talking about how the team was underperforming, how it needed to turn around.

He said it was time to make some changes, and I waited for him to talk about whacking Rick and Tommy, but he just kept talking, for a minute or two, maybe longer, about how the team was better than it was playing, about all the stories that were out there and the cloud hovering over the team.

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."

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