June 20, 2008
"I won't lie to you," Willie Randolph says in this morning's editions of the New York Daily News. "I don't like the way the Mets handled my firing. I think it was pretty weak. I think I would've deserved better if my record had been 0-555, not 302-253."
And that's just part of what I think is one of the more interesting sports journalism coups in recent memory: Four days after getting canned by Omar Minaya, Randolph comes back firing big with an interesting "as told to" in the pages of a New York tabloid.
Can anyone remember getting this inside a high-profile firing this soon? From the man who was fired?
Anyway, when I walked into the room Omar asked me to sit down. He sat right across from me. He started talking about how the team was underperforming, how it needed to turn around.
He said it was time to make some changes, and I waited for him to talk about whacking Rick and Tommy, but he just kept talking, for a minute or two, maybe longer, about how the team was better than it was playing, about all the stories that were out there and the cloud hovering over the team.
As Omar went on and on, looking very uncomfortable, this weird chill started to course through by body. I could feel myself going cold. He kept talking, almost stammering, and the chill got worse.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that maybe he was talking about me. Maybe I was the one about to get whacked.
Finally, I stopped him. I looked right at him.
"Omar, are you firing me?" I asked. He looked away for a minute and then met my eyes. "Yeah, I'm going to make a move," he said. "It's a hard decision, but I have to make it."
Forget about all those Goodfella-Mariners comparisons I made on Thursday. Reading Randolph recall the scene to NYDN writer Wayne Coffey makes me think of a scene straight out of The Godfather. And Minaya firing Randolph in Los Angeles when Randolph specifically asked him not to fire him if he got on the plane? Just cold.
Anyway, the story is probably the day's biggest must-read and a great example of how newspapers can continue to stay relevant. Think this exclusive isn't going to sell a few more copies or generate thousands and thousands of Internet clicks? Think the fellas at the NY Post aren't getting an earful from their bosses? Don't kid yourself. That's newspapering at its best.