It took years for Willie Randolph to finally get his first big league managerial job. However, after winning his last game as New York Mets skipper Monday night, Randolph was fired in the middle of the night.
Mets GM Omar Minaya must have read Kevin McHale's book on bad firings. The Minnesota Timberwolves vice-president, instead of getting his behind on a plane and flying out to do his hatchet job, called then coach Dwane Casey in his hotel room on the road and fired him long distance a couple of years ago.
I don't know which is worst -- both chicken-hearted ways to dismiss someone is a wash, any way you look at. Both men were classy in their jobs, and both Casey and Randolph were let go while their teams were away from home.
I don't know if Casey got a first class plane ticket back home, but I certainly hope Randolph did.
Either way, it's the last hired, first fired routine.
Although it was not entirely a total shock -- Randolph have been hanging on a single thread for about a month now. Still his firing, or the classless way the Mets handled it, sent shockwaves around the baseball world Tuesday.
"He is a very classy and good baseball man," says Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after his team's 2-1 win over visiting Washington in interleague play.
"As far as his job, I thought it might have been a short leash on him,"Twins first-base coach Jerry White told me. His facial expression quickly told me that he was a bit disturbed with the news of Randolph's firing., especially on how it all went down. He felt the Mets management could've treated their now former manager a little better than that.
"There's an obligation there," adds White. "The season still is young and it looks like (New York) is giving up."
New York is a tough place, and you got to win or else, notes Twins DH Craig Monroe. "They put a lot of money into one team, and when you aren't getting it done, you got to find a scapegoat."
Exit Randolph, the 2008 baseball season's first scapegoat.
"Sometimes you can't control the things that goes on (but) you know that he cared every day at that ball park, trying to figure out what he could do to help that ball club," says Gardenhire of Randolph.
Will Randolph get another chance at managing?
"He should (get another job)," says White. "It is who is willing to give him another shot."
"He deserves another opportunity," concurs Gardenhire. "He is a very classy and good baseball man. He's very well respected among all the managers. "
But given reality, and the last hired, first fired set of rules that usually is unfairly applied to Blacks, the question isn't will he, but rather when will he get another shot?
"Don't put me on the spot because I can talk a lot of crap about that," says White, the Twins' only Black on its coaching staff.
Adds Monroe, one of only two Black players on the Twins' 2008 roster, "You don't want to get me talking about that." Instead, he went another route and offered this brief bit of common sense: "I think the players got to take some cupability (for Randolph's firing). They got to go out and win games. I don't think it's the manager's fault -- it's a collective group of the team you put together."
It's a shame Minaya didn't see this as well. Let's hope that when the day comes, Minaya won't get the ax as coldly as he swung it on Randolph.