In only his second year as a manager, Willie Randolph is poised to take home the award for best manager in the National League. Right about now, several Major League Baseball organizations are kicking themselves for not giving Willie Randolph an opportunity to manage their teams. Before Randolph was hired to manage the New York Mets, several teams interviewed him and decided to take a pass. It’s their loss.
Willie Randolph has seen success as both a player and as a coach. As a player, Randolph was a six time All-Star. He was an outstanding second baseman and a solid leadoff hitter who once led the American league in walks. Willie Randolph won both American League Pennants and the World Series as a player for the New York Yankees. When his playing days were over, Randolph began a coaching career with the Yankees that lasted for over ten years. As a third base coach for the Yankees, Willie Randolph learned from both Joe Torre and Buck Showalter. Under Torre, Randolph won four World Series rings as a coach. With the Yankees making the postseason consistently, Willie Randolph gained valuable playoff experience as a coach. Randolph had three decades worth of professional baseball experience as both a player and a coach. Even with all this experience, Major League Baseball owners and executives refused to give him an opportunity as a manager.
Finally, after years of fruitless interviews, the New York Mets hired Willie Randolph to be their manager before the 2005 MLB season. In his first season, Randolph led the Mets to a winning record of 83-79, but they fell short of the playoffs. The New York Mets collapsed at the end of the 2005 season, which did not reflect well on their rookie manager. Even so, it was still their first winning season since 2001. The future was looking brighter for the New York Mets under Willie Randolph.
In 2006, the Mets have built on their 2005 winning record and become a force to be reckoned with in the National League. The Mets are running away with the National League East Division Title and are set to make their first postseason appearance since 2000. In addition, they are putting an end to the Atlanta Braves streak of 14 consecutive division titles. This year there has been no collapse in September like there was in 2005. The Mets have a roster full of veterans that have a lot of playoff experience. Now that Willie Randolph is no longer a rookie manager, the Mets and their fans are looking to do more than just make the playoffs. Whether or not they are able to make the World Series, the season has been a success for both Willie Randolph and the New York Mets. It is not official yet, but Willie Randolph should definitely be the 2006 NL Manager of the Year. Congratulations Willie and good luck in the postseason.