Friday, January 26, 2007

Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last

Not when that nice guy is Willie Randolph. Willie's class and good guy nature has graced the major leagues for over 30 years as a player, coach, and manager. The Mets regarded Willie, who will always be a Yankee at heart, yesterday with a 3 year, $5.85 million contract. Willie (just can't refer to him as Randolph) was going into the final season of his previous 3 year deal.

Willie's major league journey started with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but thanks to All-Star 2nd baseman Rennie Stennett, he became a fixture in the Yankees lineup for 13 years. Then the Yankees mistakenly listened to new manager Dallas Green and let Willie walk. He finished up his career with stops in LA, Oakland, Milwaukee, and across town with the Mets. Through it all he always went about his business without ever bringing the spotlight upon himself. Of course, it was easier to hide with those Yankees teams of the late '70s. With personalities such as Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage, and of course King George, it was pretty easy to remain in the background.

Willie combined a slick glove (which was overlooked thanks to the Royal's Frank White), with an excellent eye at the plate, and good instincts on the base paths. He and Mickey Rivers combined for an exciting 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup. It was no surprise that Willie would continue his career in a coaching and managing capacity. Though I didn't feel he was necessarily the best 3rd base coach around, I thought, and hoped, he would be a good manager. That being said, here's to not having the Mets win a World Series.

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