Tag:Art Howe
Posted on: June 3, 2008 4:38 pm

On Randolph: Something Interesting to Consider...

So I'm reading this post on Dana Brand's blog at http://metsfanbook.com/blog/; and I was intrigued about his post on Willie Randolph. I thought it was an excellent article, a must read; and so, I thought I'd post it here for all the "Willie Haters" out there who also call themselves Mets fans. Here it goes, and by the way Dana Brand, good job!!!

Obviously, Willie should not have said what he said. 

You’d have to be naïve to believe that racism doesn’t play a part, for some people, in the anger and bitterness that has been directed at Willie Randolph lately.  But you’d have to be terribly unfair to think that it’s a prominent reason.  Mets fans, after the historic choke of last season and the mediocre beginning of this one, have a sense that their team lacks fire and direction.   In a situation like this, it’s perfectly plausible to blame the man who is supposed to lead and set the tone for the team.  Any manager with a laid back manner and a controversial managerial style is going to get crap from the fans in a situation like this.  Ask Art Howe.   Race is not the main issue. 

And what is this with SNY?  Sure they put the camera on him when something bad happens.  That’s the way news coverage and sports coverage works.  He knows that.  And Gary, Keith, and Ron are wonderfully respectful towards Willie.  How would he like it if Tim McCarver was back in our booth second-guessing all his moves?

And how about this timing?  Finally the air is cleared after the Mets have a meeting and decide not to be distracted by off-the-field stuff.  Finally they get their heads together to play up to their potential and clobber the Yankees.  All attention is on our opportunity to beat the Braves right after beating the Yankees.  And then before you can blink, we’re all back in the media stew.  We’re not in the glorious green world of the ballpark.  We’re in the jam on the LIE, listening to Mike and the Mad Dog in an endless loop.  What a complete and total bummer.

Willie must have known that this was not the time to say what he said.  Why would someone who hates off-the-field distractions want to go out and create a big one at the wrongest moment imaginable?  There’s only one answer to this question.

Willie must have meant it. 

You know how sometimes you’re having a fight with someone and everybody’s finally calmed down and things are all right and then you just can’t help but say something that shows how hurt you were that the other person said what they said before things calmed down?  I think this happened here.  I don’t think that Willie thinks that racism is the big issue.  But my guess is that he can’t help but feel as if it is.  I think that like most African-Americans, Willie has had to deal all his life with people who just don’t like him for some reason and don’t want to give him a chance.  And I think that when you’ve had to deal with crap like that, it is sometimes hard to put things in perspective when you are suddenly the object of so much intense hostility, when you’ve been doing your job with a pretty fair amount of success for three years.  If you’ve looked at the Internet boards and if you’ve listened to the radio, you know how over-the-top the blame-Willie, we-hate-Willie stuff has been.   I know this stuff is not necessarily racist.  I know it just bubbles up out of the angst of being a Mets fan at this particular moment.  But what may be happening is that Willie is mistaking one kind of unfair hostility towards him with another.  That may not be fair of him, but I can certainly understand why he feels this way.

The problem, coincidentally, is the same problem Tom Glavine identified at the end of last year in a statement he certainly should not have made.  When he said that he was disappointed and not devastated (as we were) to lose the last game of the season in the first inning, he was trying to tell us to back off, to understand that baseball is only a game.  This comment was foolish.  Tom should have known how much that last game meant to Mets fans, and he should have been devastated, and not merely disappointed.  But I can understand where people like Tom and Willie are coming from.  They must wonder: how can all of these strangers be so emotionally involved in what happens as I try my best to do my job?  Why, if I look as if I’m screwing up, do they actually go so far as to hate me?  It’s a reasonable question, but it’s also kind of a dumb question.  That’s what this thing is.  Baseball is something a baseball fan is passionate about.  Sometimes our passion will come after you guys and sometimes it will look like some of the worst things in the world.  At other times our passion will lift you to the heavens. 

Everybody’s going to be talking for the next couple of days about how unfair and unwise Willie’s comments were.  The game I’m watching right now is not going well, so it’s not going to save us.  What I’d really like is if in addition to talking about how unfair Willie was, we also recognize something about the anguish that would have prompted him to say what he shouldn’t have said.  It must not be easy for these guys, no matter how much money they make or glory they get.  Yeah, they should put up with it, yeah, heat, kitchen all that stuff.  Yeah, and they’re human beings too. 

We should treat them with some understanding.  And they should understand where we’re coming from.  It is true that baseball is just a game, that it isn’t real.  But that’s like saying American Idol isn’t real, or Harry Potter.  The statement is true, in the most obvious and literal way.  But it ‘s not true. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com