Despite rumors that Wally Backman is not a real candidate for the Mets’ managerial job, word has it that he will be formally interviewed later this week. Now, I don’t think it’s the end of the world if Backman is hired from the job, but the idea of it has left me feeling uneasy for the past few weeks. I’ve finally taken the time to quantify these feelings with the points below.
1. Wally has (almost) no major league experience.
One day in Arizona hardly bolsters a resume. And not just managerial major league experience, he hasn’t been a base coach, a bench coach, or a hitting coach in the majors either. For the Mets, a high budget, popular, media-frenzied team, to hire a manager with no major league experience truly represents a shot in the dark. I’ve seen fans attack this notion with the old “the minors are the same as the majors!” comeback. While the difference between the MLB and the minor leagues may not quite be the difference between college and pro football, the analogy remains somewhat appropriate. Simply put, there is a learning curve with any manager in any sport jumping to a new team, and a steeper curve if he’s jumping to a new team in a new league. Have managers come from the minors to achieve success in the majors before? Of course they have, but it’s a risk, and shouldn’t the Mets focus on minimizing risk after the last several seasons?
2. Wally’s a loose cannon, in a bad way.
There’s a good way to be a loose cannon in this league, see Bobby Cox or Jim Leyland for example. And there’s a bad way to be a loose cannon, which Backman has exemplified over the last several seasons. In 1999, Backman was arrested for a DUI, in 2000 he was arrested again for an ‘altercation’ in his home. After being hired by the Diamondbacks in 2004, the team also learned that Backman had declared bankruptcy to avoid paying at least twenty creditors. This last issue isn’t loose cannon related, but it sure is a major case of irresponsibility. Finally, everyone has seen Backman’s insane ejection from a Peanuts game not too long ago. There’s a difference between arguing with an umpire, and maybe a complete clown of yourself and a mockery of the game. Wally illustrated the latter in embarrassing fashion.
The Mets are attempting to rebuild their image after a circus act with Omar Minaya in charge. This is why Sandy Alderson was hired as General Manager! The reason the Mets’ new GM was hired was to clean up the mess of the organization, and now he should hire an irresponsible, loose cannon, jerk of a manager? I think not. I hope not.
3. Wally won the World Series on the 1986 Mets.
To be clear, this isn’t a reason not to hire Backman, but it’s equally not a reason to hire him. The Mets should be searching for the best manager possible; winning a WS with the team has no barring on that measure. The time for team ego inflation, catering to misguided fans, and ‘reliving’ history has come to an end. Alderson needs to look at the situation logically and only hire Wally Backman if he is truly right for the job.
In my humble opinion, there’s just far too much working against Wally, compared to what’s working for him. I hope Alderson takes all of this into consideration, and I trust that he will, probably without the need for this blog post. Finally, I will fully support Backman if he is hired, while secretly praying he doesn’t bring the circus back to New York.