Just some observations about the debate over Wally Backman’s managerial candidacy.
A.) The only reason he’s being considered is because he was a 1986 Met.
He’s an ’86 Met who has had success as a manager at the minor league level, carries the respect of many of his former teammates, including Ron Darling, and knows this city. He wears a ring earned as a New York Mets player, and has a blue-collar identity with the fan base. He is a walking example of everything that was once great about the New York Mets, and can be again. Mets fans can be sentimental like that. They love a story, they love redemption, they love the idea of a Leo Durocher-type rallying their team to a win.
Will it work? Remains to be seen. Worth the risk? Hell, yes.
B.) Backman is the least experienced candidate.
Terry Collins hasn’t managed in the big leagues since 1999. He quit that job. He also quit the Dodgers after serving as Minor League coordinator to manage the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. He quit that job too. Never won a division, never made it to the postseason, but he’s friends with Omar Minaya, Fred Wilpon and Sandy Koufax.
Bob Melvin is a very nice guy, and very articulate. He has lost more games than he has won. He has been fired twice, each time for clubs who severely underperformed. Unlike Collins, one of his teams made the postseason. Big part of his allure is missing, as long time pitching coach and sidekick Bryan Price is will be helping the Reds defend the 2010 NL Central crown he helped them win this year.
Clint Hurdle got to the 2007 World Series with a fun, young Colorado Rockies team. Of this group, he’s gotten farther in the postseason than anyone. But as Troy Renck from the Denver Post pointed out when Hurdle was fired:
What doomed Hurdle was not so much this season’s 18-28 record, but how the Rockies arrived in the National League West basement. Despite running a “back-to-basics” spring training, the Rockies were a sloppy team. Hurdle hurt himself by not acting more forcefully when the mistakes surfaced during the first week of the season. He adopted a hard-line stance two weeks ago, benching Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins and cutting Glendon Rusch, but by then it was too late.
Chip Hale is someone a portion of the Mets fans find acceptable. Yet, with all of his experience and success as a minor league manager, wasn’t interviewed by anyone else for their managerial vacancy. Backman wasn’t either, but that’s understandable considering his “baggage”. Chip Hale doesn’t have that obstacle.
DeMarlo Hale is a latecomer to the process, and a new favorite for the anti-Backman crew. Has a great resume, great reputation and is said to be a player’s guy. Has no Mets or New York ties, but other than that, is a viable candidate. If he doesn’t get Mets job, he’ll return to Red Sox.
Don Wakamtsu? I’m not even going there. Just got fired from Seattle for mishandling clubhouse and mishandling Ken Griffey, Jr. Despite being the object of affection from many, including Si.com’s Jon Heyman, he shouldn’t even be in the conversation.
I have more than once talked about Ken Oberkfell as a viable option, and while Backman as an interm replacement this past summer was “far-fetched”, it isn’t now.
Backman will ignite passion (on both sides) and create plenty of back page buzz, and just might be one of the great baseball stories of the summer. Critics will say and have said that “buzz” and “passion” doesn’t matter, but this is New York, and yeah, it does matter.
If he’s dseemed not ready, then Oberkfell is the only other option that makes sense.