Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Does Mike Francesa Have Against Willie Randolph?

By Nicholas Stix

Three weeks ago on his New York sports talk show, Mike’d Up on NBC’s New York affiliate, Mike Francesa snubbed Mets’ skipper, Willie Randolph. Francesa was talking about the Mets’ prospects this season, and how they had gotten by in 2006 with great hitting, and “the Mets” would paste together a starting rotation, and had a great bullpen. He pointed out that the team had an old rotation at that point for the coming season, with the caveat, that if necessary, “Omar will make a move” for a starting pitcher. It was always “the Mets,” whoever they were, as if the managing were done by a committee, vs. “Omar.” Not once did Francesa mention Randolph.

Now, I was not a believer in Willie Randolph, when he was named Mets manager in 2005. Randolph had never managed; not in the big leagues, and not in the minors. The Mets had just endured two years of the Art Howe fiasco. I had never wanted them to hire Howe in the first place, and I certainly didn’t want owner Fred Wilpon taking a chance on a green manager.

Wilpon had likely hired Howe, because he was the anti-Valentine. Bobby Valentine had been one of the best managers in Mets history, and he got the team to the World Series in 2000 for the last time, after a 14-year drought. Valentine was brilliant and had a maniacal work ethic, but he could be sneaky and was too much in love with his own cleverness (like the time he started circulating a rumor that slugging catcher and team captain Todd Hundley was partying too late at night, or the time he got thrown out of a game, and thought he could fool the ump by sneaking back onto the bench wearing a Groucho disguise). Still, he gave his all for Wilpon, and the team gave its all for Valentine. Valentine’s stressing of the fundamentals and preparation had much to do with the team having one of the greatest infields of all time under his stewardship (John Olerud at first base, Edgardo Alfonzo at second, Rey Ordonez at shortstop, and Robin Ventura at third).

But Wilpon hated Valentine, and let his animus cloud his judgment. Apparently, he decided that he would hire the diametrical opposite of Valentine, and so he hired Howe, a guy who didn’t belong in New York.

When Wilpon fired Howe after two years of misery, I wanted him to hire a proven winner. When he went with Randolph instead, I was afraid he’d put race politics over winning. After all, Major League Baseball obliges every team with a managerial opening to interview at least one black candidate, even if the owner has no interest at all in the guy. Violation of the affirmative action program results in fines. The Tigers paid such a fine back in 2000. They had an opening and knew exactly who they wanted to fill it – fiery Phil Garner. So they offered the job to Garner, and he accepted. But because the Tigers didn’t dissimulate to some poor black guy looking for a manager’s job, they had to take a hit. Conversely, had they lied to a black candidate, and told him they were legitimately interested in him, the league would have been most happy, and the team could have saved thousands of dollars.

Willie Randolph once got such an interview offer. To his credit, Randolph asked the executive on the phone if he was being invited simply to fulfill the league’s quota, the executive had the decency to answer in the affirmative, at which point Randolph said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

Randolph’s 2005 Mets had a shaky beginning, losing their first five games, but then went on a winning streak, and by the end of the season, they were 83-79, their first winning season since 2000. Simply put, Willie Randolph turned around a franchise that was mired in a loser’s mentality. The following year, the Mets went 97-65, won their division for the first time since 1988, and came within one inning of going to the World Series.

Last Sunday, Francesa momentarily departed from his Yankee-sniffing norm, and devoted a real segment to the Mets, and while he didn’t totally snub Randolph – that would have caused a scandal – he might as well have. He mentioned Randolph for all of three seconds, to note the contract extension the Mets had granted him, in the midst of an extended interview with Mets GM Omar Minaya.

Look, I’m not a mindless Willie Randolph fan. For instance, he favors Latin players over whites. He had a rule that there was to be no playing of music in the locker room. And yet, when some Hispanic players flouted the rule, he did nothing. So, the rule doesn’t apply to Latins.

Of course, it was Omar Minaya’s decision to stack the team with Latin players in the first place. And they can play. Minaya, one of the smartest GMs in the game, has put together a very competitive team. But as I have previously noted, some of the players he signed and traded for – specifically Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado – hold the Mets’ predominantly white fan base in contempt. (Jose Reyes, by contrast, treats the fans royally.) You know, the folks buying the tickets and filling Shea Stadium? But that’s on Minaya, not Randolph. And Minaya is the guy Francesa is treating with kid gloves.

Randolph also has an irritating tendency to abuse pitch-arounds, in walking less-than-intimidating hitters (e.g., number eight hitters, in order to pitch to the opposing pitcher), a tendency which blew up in his face several times last season.

Given that subtle (or unsubtle?) pressure from Omar Minaya may have had something to do with Randolph’s ethnic double-standard, he takes half a rap for that sin, grievous though it is. And considering the relative significance of the occasional unnecessary intentional walk, versus the effort most of his players put out for him almost every day, and the results he has gotten, Randolph is certainly one of the better managers in the game.

So, Mike, what’s the story?

Now, They're Simply "Laborers"

By Nicholas Stix

To follow up on a post by James Fulford, the most common sin of omission that VDARE.com has been exposing for years, is the media’s refusal to identify illegal immigrants in news stories. Things have gotten so bad, that if a news story speaks of “immigrants” living in America, unless the story emphasizes that they are here legally (and even then, you might justifiably wonder), you can safely bet the split-level, the immigrants in question are here illegally.

And so it is with a February 27 Washington Post story by crime reporter Ruben Castaneda (email link here), “Laborers Sue For Overtime Pay,” subtitled, “Immigrants Accuse Firm of Fraud.”

On February 21, the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLCCRUA) and the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, jointly filed a federal lawsuit in Maryland on behalf of four “immigrant” workers, Giovanni “Henry” Montoya, Alexander Figueroa, Manuel Carrera and Ivan Aplicano, alleging that their former employer, Thurmont, MD-based (in Frederick County) SCCP Painting Contractors Inc. (John Sulmonte, owner), cheated them out of wages they’d earned painting luxury condo complexes in Maryland and Washington, DC. Castaneda identified Aplicano as a 34-year-old Honduran, and Carrera as a 49-year-old Mexican.

Sulmonte “said yesterday that he was unaware of the lawsuit or of the allegations that people who worked for him were not paid for their labor.

"I don't know anything about it," Sulmonte said, adding that the workers and their attorneys were welcome to call him.

The plaintiffs allege, variously, that the defendant cheated them out of some pay checks in their entirety (Montoya, Figueroa, Carrera and Aplicano); cheated them out of overtime (again, all four); forced them to work a certain number of hours “off-the-clock” without pay (Figueroa); “and deducted amounts from certain pay checks for the stated purpose of tax withholding (but on information and belief not for that purpose at all” (Carrera).

Castaneda reports that WLCCRUA attorney Laura E. Varela said that the plaintiffs’ lawyers seek certification of the action as a class action suit, because that would permit them to subpoena the records of all SCCP employees from the past three years, which she said totaled over 500, all of them Hispanic “immigrants.”

"They bring in groups of workers for large jobs and, when they're done, they fire them," Varela said. Virtually all of the workers are Latino immigrants, she said, and many are day laborers.

Varela and Anne E. Langford, a lawyer with the firm that collaborated in filing the lawsuit, declined to say whether Aplicano or any of the other three named plaintiffs are in the country without proper documentation.

Varela said the workers' immigration status is irrelevant to the lawsuit: "They're entitled to their wages for their labor."

That they are.

Give Castaneda credit for asking; many pc reporters would never have considered doing so. (However, either Castaneda was remiss in not reporting that Varela is the director of the WLCCRUA’s pro-illegal immigrant, “Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project,”, or his editor did him dirty by cutting the reference. The SPLC lists WLCCRUA as a “social justice group.” I am not sure as to whether the SPLC refers to Lee Harvey Oswald as a “social justice activist.” And yet, if WLCCRUA can make life difficult for crooked employers, its volunteer attorneys may yet do some good, in spite of themselves.)

The charges vaguely recall what VDARE’s Steve Sailer has reported regarding the abuse by California corporate farmers of non-Spanish-speaking Mexican Indians – the farmers fire the illegal pickers after a brief, low-wage employment, constantly turning over the work crews, many of whom remain in the country, to live off the generosity of America’s citizen-taxpayers. As Sailer has repeatedly observed, thus do criminal employers privatize profits, while socializing costs.

Of course, we don’t know whether SCCP is guilty. Castaneda does, however, recount the cases of a number of D.C.-area employers who have been found guilty of cheating “immigrant laborers,” and been forced to pay them what they owed them, including Francisco Sandoval, another subcontractor working on a luxury condo development, who cheated workers out of $21,000. Leoncio Vite had been promised a lousy ten bucks an hour for laying fiber optic cables by Mega Telecommunications of Virginia Beach, which then proceeded to cheat him out of 113 hours’ pay.

Legally, these cases have a certain ambivalence. Traditionally, someone who was here illegally didn’t have the right to sue anyone, and in the countries that illegal immigrants leave to come here, that is still the case. (Just try sneaking into Mexico, and suing anyone!) However, American courts have been permitting such suits for a number of years. Since so many illegal immigrants practice insurance fraud and other shakedowns, overall, the suits have cost American citizens billions of dollars. And between the fraudulent and the frivolous suits, immigrants and their children comprise the most sue-happy group in America. But if illegals are going to be permitted to sue any and everyone, at least let them sue crooked employers. The more common such suits become, the less incentive employers will have to break the law.

In a May 26, 2005, Washington Post story, reporter Nikita Stewart quoted Jayesh Rathod, a staff attorney for Casa de Maryland, a nonprofit that helps about 300 immigrants per year recoup unpaid wages, “It's an epidemic, the nonpayment of wages. People come to us every day.”

Legal and political issues aside, morally, no one has the right to hire someone, and then cheat him out of his pay.

Previously posted at VDARE.com.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Can Conservatives be Eloquent?

By Nicholas Stix

In “Man bites dog in Sun-Times,” my Chicago-area writer friend
Jim Bowman
directs readers to the
Chicago Sun-Times
obit of its long-time columnist, Paul Molloy, who just died at the age of 86.

The obituary writer, Dave Newbart (dnewbart@suntimes.com>; if you write, be civil) recounted that when Molloy was hired away from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal by the Sun-Times to be its radio and TV critic, “He quickly drew a following for promoting conservative values, but in an eloquent way, in his daily column dubbed ‘It's the Molloy.’”

In 1953, Molloy had invented the job of television critic at the Commercial-Appeal. His old newspaper has yet to run an obituary for its former star.

Bowman quips, “Conservative but eloquent, what do you know?”