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Omar Minaya Gave Willie Randolph Extra Time Because He’s African American

I’m glad Omar Minaya held his press conference so he could answer a lot of the questions regarding the firing of Willie Randolph. For instance, it explained why Minaya waited until the first day of a road trip and why the news came overnight. Additionally, there was one element of Minaya’s news conference that stood out to me, aside from the fact that he talked out of both sides of his mouth: race had a large role in Minaya’s decision. Omar made it well-known that Randolph was given plenty of time and chances because he’s African American, and because he had a vested interest in seeing Randolph succeed. Just read some of the things he said, or watch it:

“Willie was my hire. It was my decision, and I decided to fire Willie. It was my decision. A tough decision, but it was my decision. And it’s a tough one. I say it’s tough. Why? Because I hired him, one. He is the first African American manager in the history of New York baseball. I’m the first Hispanic general manager in baseball. When you have that bond, there’s a connection. And myself, giving Willie that chance to manage, it took me time to make this decision. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done.”

“I have vested interested in Willie Randolph doing good … because I hired him. Willie Randolph is a reflection of my judgment. Like myself, I went to eight to ten, 12 interviews. Willie Randolph went to 12. He was not given an opportunity. I felt he should be given an opportunity. I feel as a general manager, to give the first African American an opportunity in New York, it’s important to the history of this franchise, and even more important, it’s important to our ownership. And to me, this is a very tough decision.

So there you go. If you were ever wondering why Randolph wasn’t canned at the end of last season, where it was certainly called for, it’s because Minaya wanted to give Randolph as many chances as possible to succeed. Ditto for why he hadn’t been fired any one of the other bagillion times there was a rumor he would do so over the last six weeks. I think it’s understandable that Minaya felt this way, but I’m surprised he actually admitted it in public. I think it’s actually worse in the end that Minaya fired him in the middle of the season instead of just giving him the year. But I guess he’s trying to do anything now to save his skin.

Mets Finally Fire Willie Randolph

Wow, this is nuts. Imagine my surprise to happen upon this story, the night after a Mets win no less. The Mets have apparently announced the firing of manager Willie Randolph, ending weeks of speculation that he would be canned. I guess now we know why Omar Minaya made the trip out to the West Coast. And if you thought Randolph’s head would be the only one chopped, you were wrong. In a massive purge, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto were also fired. Jerry Manuel will serve as interim manager, with three other men joining the staff (mostly promoted from the minors).

I just can’t understand the timing of this move. Why now? Why after a win? Why the day after the team started a road trip? Why not last week, why not after getting swept by the Padres? The timing doesn’t make sense to me in either the short-run or the big picture. If you were going to fire the guy, I have maintained, you should have done it after last year’s collapse. That was enough ammo to bring out the execution squad. It’s like a death penalty; you preside over such a debacle, you should be gone. But if you decide to hang onto the guy and let him try again next season, give him a legit shot. Don’t just bag him and make his life miserable for 70 games with the team injury-plagued and hovering around .500. What would you prefer, to be up 15 at this point like last year and have everyone recounting stories of the collapse?

Since the Mets decided to give Willie another shot, which was probably a bad idea to begin with, they did Willie and themselves a serious disservice by not giving him the full year. Now things are a mess and a new group of guys are coming in. At least the speculation about job security will be gone for the moment. Additionally, who’s to say the below average start was all on Willie this year? I do believe that Pedro, El Duque, and Moises Alou were all Omar Minaya signings. Aging players who spent serious time on the D.L. this year can’t exactly help Randolph on the field. And Willie’s not the one who signed Delgado to a big deal, a player who’s massively underperformed. Sure people can rave about the payroll, but that doesn’t mean it was all money well spent. Some of this falls on Omar, and if the team fails to right the ship, he’ll be gone, too.

Note: In his press conference on Tuesday to explain the process, Minaya said that he decided on Sunday night he was going to fire Randolph but wanted to sleep on the decision. Minaya didn’t change his mind and by Monday morning he was set on firing Willie, and only waited until after the game to do so. Minaya also didn’t show any favoritism towards individual reporters, sending a blanket statement to the press.

Hank Steinbrenner: NL ‘Needs to Grow Up and Join 21st Century’

George who? For anyone that was worried the sauciness erupting from the Yankees front office would disappear when George stepped out of the picture, they sure have had their share of relief in the form of Hank who has stepped right in without missing a beat. The guy’s not afraid to bash anyone or rip anything, and funny enough, he’s got a take on damn near every subject. In essence, he’s Curt Schilling without the fastball. And check out the bomb he dropped on over half of MLB in response to Chien-Ming Wang getting injured running the bases in Houston:

“My only message is simple. The National League needs to join the 21st century,” Steinbrenner said in Tampa, Fla. “They need to grow up and join the 21st century.

“Am I (mad) about it? Yes,” Steinbrenner added. “I’ve got my pitchers running the bases, and one of them gets hurt. He’s going to be out. I don’t like that, and it’s about time they address it. That was a rule from the 1800s.”

As an American League guy, I can’t agree with Steiny more. I’m all about the offense. Who the heck wants to watch pitchers bat anyway? If they’re that good, the team won’t have to use a D.H. anyway. Surely Steinbrenner’s outburst is a wholly irrational response to the situation, but it certainly has merit. Gotta love that guy. Is there any wonder why Sporting News has decided to make him a featured writer? Tell us how you really feel next time, Hank.

(via FanHouse)

Rangers Make Good Use of Rain Delay

As much as I can’t stand the Rangers — and they’re easily one of the teams I dislike the most in baseball — they’re actually becoming somewhat likable. They’re playing well, they have Hamilton who’s mashing, and Milton’s on fire, too. Plus, they have Ron Washington’s old, drunk ass managing them in between drags off his cigs and shots of Crown Royal (note: this is only what goes on in my head, not reality). What’s not to like about them? OK, they’re still an amateur ballclub always inciting crap with the Angels, so I can’t like them too much. But what they did during a rain delay at Shea Stadium on Saturday was awesome. Check out their slip and slide:

Video via FanIQ. Let’s see, I saw Milton, Hamilton, Kinsler, Michael Young, and it looked like Saltalamacchia in there, too. Not quite sure who else I missed. I like to see guys like that having fun, not taking themselves too seriously. Maybe that’s why they’re playing well — they’re actually enjoying themselves like they’re the Oakland A’s or something. And why is it that we keep getting fun moments that involve baseball tarps?

Washburn: Mariners Deserve Boos

First it was Ichiro saying that the Mariners were playing so poorly that he’d be drinking beer and booing the team if he were at the games. Ichiro generally keeps comments to himself, so hearing that carried even more weight. Well, after getting swept by the Nationals — truly an amazing feat — Jarrod Washburn stepped up and admitted what we all know:

Mariners fans have had almost nothing to cheer about this season, and they’ve had plenty to boo. For the most part, the booing has been muted, but Sunday it could be heard in a volume approximating that of a 737 landing at SeaTac.

“When we’ve played like this,” pitcher Jarrod Washburn said, “we should be booed.”

With a .348 winning percentage, the Mariners are currently the worst team in baseball — by a wide margin. Even the worst teams have at least 28 wins and a .400 winning percentage. The Mariners are 24-45, 21 games under .500. I never imagined things could possibly get this bad for them. Last month I was doing a radio interview and was asked which manager would probably be first to go, the obvious choice being Willie Randolph. I didn’t take the bait, instead going with McLaren because the Mariners were underachieving by a ridiculous amount. This team is far too talented to be this pathetic. Maybe they do need a change at the top. And Washburn is right — the fans should be booing a team this bad.

Giants Go With Retro 80s Night

Guess when you’re towards the bottom of the division and lacking when it comes to offensive production, you have to come up with new ways to entertain your fans. I’ve always liked the retro nights they come up with at the ballpark — they’re always good for a laugh. Most usually do 70s nights and stick the players in afros and give em sideburns. The Giants decided to switch it up and stick their players in 80s movie posters. Not too bad, check em out:

Thanks to Giantsboard.com as always, the same people that provided us with the Barry Bonds All-Star voting scheme last year. And to think, I was only looking for pictures of the wives’ softball game. Check out Bengie Molina, Brian Horwitz, Rich Aurilia, and Omar Vizquel in 80s movies below …

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Chipper Jones Can’t Catch a Break

Just a bruise, instead. I’ve heard of some pretty weird and freak injuries occurring in baseball, but this has to be up there. How many guys get injured during batting practice? I know Nomar did — he was hit on the heel with a batted ball (though that never made any sense). But everything happens to him, so why should that surprise us? Well, because what Chipper did was, well, unprecedented.

Chipper pulled a Brickma, doing only what Daniel Stern could do. He injured himself by fouling a ball off in BP that hit the top of the cage and came back down and hit him in the face. The ball hit him just under the eye, no doubt leaving a bruise of some sort. He was taken to the hospital for a CT scan that came out fine. The good thing is that the injury couldn’t have been too serious because Chipper’s set to play in Saturday’s game. Honestly, some dudes are just like that. Chipper’s one of em. He’s not quite a Nomar, but he hasn’t played a full season in five years. I guess that means he has a DL stint in him for some point this summer. Until that day comes, he’s still mashing. Here’s to hitting .400 as part of a Hall of Fame career.