Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lying in wait at the NY Post

Davey Johnson received high marks for his skill at dealing with the media. There was the occasional blow-up. One was with Steve Marcus of Newsday when he pressed him in 1987 on whether or not he was going to name Terry Leach to the All-Star team. It was soon forgotten as it was out of character. Davey could be frequently short and aloof with Steve Garland and me. But Steven observed once, "You know, I just think Davey gets tired of having to talk all the time about everything."
Although not in any written job description, its the manager's job to speak with the media as the club's spokesman. This task is most difficult in New York with the volume of daily print coverage. Joe Torre has proved a master at it and he's earned quite a bit of leeway. Willie Randolph is new. And the honeymoon is clearly over.
Eminent hockey columnist at the NY Post, Larry Brooks, took the occasion of the Winter Olympics NHL break to tarvel to Florida to weigh in on some baseball issues. On February 26, he took exception to a light-hearted quip by Willie Randolph about Brain Bannister and wrote Willie had a faulty memory. This was a cheap, blind-sided shot from am experienced writer who should know better. Certainly a veteran of locker rooms of NHL and ML players, Brooks should have recognized this as simple trash talk that exist between knowing athletes who've shared similar experiences. I'm doubtful the elder Bannister would have gotten much more than a chuckle from Randolph tort. Yet Brooks took the opportunity to play "gotcha!". Recently burned himself by an NHL source with respect to Mike Bossy wanting to be paid for his appearance at Nassau Coliseum to recognize the dominate Islander clubs, I expected more from a writer of Brooks caliber.
This morning, Joel Sherman took his turn. Sherman asserted that Randolph displayed 'prickliness' with the media and that it won't serve him well in times of trouble. He also took Billy Wagner to task for getting on a Post writer about a disparaging headline in the paper about him opting not to play in the World Baseball Classic. He feels Wagner and the Mets need to be big boys about it. Sherman seems to feel writers are immune from criticism as they don't write the headlines. But like a manager, they represent their paper. And they need to be big boys as well if they write a less than complimentary piece about someone and that person calls them on it. Keith Hernandez once told a St. Louis writer to beat-it when he showed up at his locker after writing a personal hit piece on him.
And this is the road which both Brooks and Sherman are going down. By choosing to go beyond on field success or failure and venturing into the personal, their both opening themselves up to potential prickliness from the people they write about. And they both have signaled that they will be letting Willie Randolph have it at the first sign of struggle in Flushing.


At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, I am no fan of media condescension. But this will be fun to watch. NY press gave Willie a free pass last year. Nice guy, showed little baseball judgment last year. If his game management is not improved they will actually question him about it in 2006. Anything that decreases the chances of LoDuca leading off is a positive. That said, Sherman and Heyman (Newsday) are both petty men, at least Joel sticks to baseball ruminations. Should that surprise when David Gregory is throwing tantrums and phoning in drunken updates on the White House beat? Best, Abe


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