I learned of Willie’s demise Tuesday morning on my commute to work. I instantly felt nauseous. I knew that letting Willie go was a strong possibility and I was not necessarily against the move. What made me sick was the handling of it. I understand that it may be standard operating procedures to fire a manager after a game, and sometimes that occurs at night. I think I feel bad for Willie Randolph, the man, and not Willie Randolph, the manager.
It came to light today that Willie’s fate was apparently sealed with his “racial” comments in the week before Memorial Day. Someone on WFAN on Tuesday commented on how Fred Wilpon prides himself on breaking down racial barriers and lost any sense of camaraderie or association with Willie with the comments that Willie was handled differently because of his race. It seems as though Willie lost a leg of support of management around that time.
Fast forward to Omar Minaya’s pathetic, bumbling excuse for a press conference. In his statements, Omar placed a LOT of emphasis on how “This was MY decision,” how “I hired Willie, and I fired Willie”. His fervent focus on his responsibility for Willie’s firing especially how it played out leads me to believe that a conversation took place on Tuesday between Fred Wilpon and Omar that went something like this: “Omar, you could not have botched up this job anymore. Your handling of the Willie situation has given a black eye to the club. In your press conference, you’d best be taking responsibility for this and taking the focus away from (me) the organization.”
I would be (further) appalled if I were Fred Wilpon listening to Minaya’s press conference Tuesday afternoon. I was ashamed of him as a fan. Omar did nothing to control the damage he did on Tuesday morning in how he handled the firing of Willie. He is supposed to be the face of the organization and at least give the impression that they are prepared to move on from here. Omar did nothing of the sort. Omar went on for a half an hour rant that was scattered and unfocused. Rather than a General Manager presenting to a room of reporters and others with vested interest, Omar Minaya looked and sounded like a hyperactive fourth grader presenting his book report.
A few times during his rant, Omar spoke about how Willie was the first African American manager in New York, and how Omar was the first Hispanic general manager in New York. Well, Omar, you have certainly fired the first African-American manager in New York history in memorable fashion. I would venture to guess that you will be the first Hispanic general manager to be fired in New York sports history as well.
Omar gone by 2009?