This N’ That With Tony Mack: Willie’s Wait: It’s About Damn Time

By Tony McClean
Updated: November 5, 2004

Willie Randolph

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — In writing this column, I take off my objective sports reporter’s cap and put on a black, blue, and orange Mets’ cap and yell……FINALLY!!!!!!!!!

I don’t care what the naysayers (most being Met fans themselves) and others within the New York media are whispering. Omar Minaya’s hiring of Willie Randolph as the 18th manager in New York Mets’ history will wind up being the most defining moment of this franchise.

To all the Met fans who are cringing that an ex-Yankee is now running the ball club — GET A GRIP!! These are the same fans who burned up the phone lines to WFAN hoping the Mets could find a way to get Lou Piniella out of Tampa.

Yes, Sweet Lou has won a title and is slowly turning the D-Rays into a contender. But if you remember, when he took over the job at the Bronx Zoo, he didn’t have any managerial experience either.

Two other Met skippers — Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra — also had roots with the Evil Empire, but I don’t remember a public outcry after they were hired. Stengel was the face of the organization in its early years. He even has his number 37 retired by the club.

As for Yogi, he managed the team after the untimely death of Gil Hodges (an ex-Brooklyn Dodger, by the way) in 1972. A year later, he helped lead them back to a Cinderella run at the title before falling to the mighty A’s in a seven-game World Series.

As for Willie’s lack of managerial experience, I say he’s been a manager in training the last 13 years at the Bronx. Why is that it’s okay for some folks to come out of the broadcasting booth (i.e., Larry Dierker, Bob Brenly) and get a managerial job while someone like Randolph, who’s been a loyal coach, gets ridiculed for lack of credentials?

Who is a better hire: a guy in the booth or someone who’s been on the field as a player and coach for nearly 30 years of his baseball and adult life? To me, the choice of Randolph was and is a no-brainer.

The Mets already righted a previous wrong by re-hiring Minaya as their GM. Now after dragging their feet a few days, they finally got it right bringing the Brooklyn native back to the team he rooted for as a kid.

Now I’m not saying that the Amazins’ can go out and print World Series tickets for next season, but for the first time in a while, there seems to be reason for hope. Now that Minaya can actually go out and spent some money, the prospects seem to be looking up.

It will take some time. Maybe about three or four seasons and with some decent moves along the way, I really feel that Omar and Willie will have the Mets back as a contender and in the World Series down the road.

Now, I hope the rest of the baseball world will take a chance on some other qualified black managerial candidates like Chris Chambliss, Frank White, Ron Washington, and others.

Randolph’s hiring is a good start, it shouldn’t be the final chapter of this story. We here at BASN will be waiting and watching.