Posted: Wednesday September 20, 2006 12:29PM; Updated: Wednesday September 20, 2006 2:58PM
The most galling snub may have come in 1999, when, on the day he was supposed to be interviewed for the Colorado job, the Rockies announced that they had hired Buddy Bell, since the news had already leaked to the media. Randolph remembers Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd calling him up that day about the interview and saying, "Can we do this on the phone?"
That's the kind of treatment Randolph used to get, treatment that couldn't be completely explained by racism, because other minority candidates, such as Tony Pe˝a and Lloyd McClendon, each were given the chance to manage. Meanwhile, whispers began that he couldn't get hired because he interviewed poorly, or because he had never managed in winter ball or the minor leagues, despite the fact that other managers who had been hired more than once,ásuch asáLou Piniella and Phil Garner, had never done so either.
But now it seems like all of those misguided executives who bypassed Randolph might have done him a favor, because he wound up working for a franchise with the money to provide him with top talent and the expertise to spend it wisely. That doesn't mean Randolph has been a push-button manager with the Mets. He's had to steer the team through injuries to his ace, Pedro Martinez, and his best setup man, Duaner Sanchez. He's had to piece together a starting rotation and provide a steady hand to guide his team through the pressures of playing in New York. There's no guarantee Randolph would have done as well with any other franchise, of course, but given his track record, would you bet against him?
"I don't manage with a chip on my shoulder, but deep down inside, there's a little bit of gratification, a little bit of 'See?'" he told TheNew York Times recently.
They see, all right. Every exec who ever bypassed him can see what kind of manager Willie Randolph is now. They can see that it makes perfect sense that he would be a winner, because that's all he's ever been. While they watch Randolph lead his team into October, they should feel ashamed that they didn't see it sooner.