Tag: wally backman

Wally Backman To Manage Marlins?

With the surprise resignation of manager Edwin Rodriguez, the sinking Marlins are searching for a replacement. Last night, several sources indicated that the Marlins asked the Mets for permission to speak with Binghamton manager Wally Backman.

I know what you’re about to say: “but Joe, the Marlins already decided on 80-year-old Jack McKeon to take over as the interim manager, so that rumor is bunk!”

Well consider this: if McKeon is hired, that doesn’t mean the Fish didn’t make a phone call to Flushing before making that decision. Moreover, McKeon almost certainly will be carrying the “interim” tag — meaning, the Marlins are still hunting for a long-term replacement.

That said, isn’t it still possible that the Marlins could hire Wally Backman to manage their ballclub?


6 DUPACR: Wally Backman

With 6 Days Until Pitchers And Catchers Report, I chose former #6 Wally Backman to represent the day.

Are you surprised? If so then you don’t come by here often.

Wally — like many of the ’86 Mets — was considered an “old-school” player in the 1980s … which means, in today’s game, he’d be REALLY old-school … in fact I’m not even sure that schools existed in cro-magnon times.

25-30 years ago, old school meant hustling all the time; getting the uniform dirty by sliding head-first and diving for balls; taking out the pivot man on a double play as a rule; leaning into a pitch to get on base; stealing signs; barreling the catcher; playing with injuries; and doing everything else (without cheating) to win a ballgame. This may sound similar to what “old school” means today, but there is one more factor that you rarely, if ever, see from today’s old-schooler: hatred for the opponent. There was no fraternizing back then — not before games, not during games. OK, there was an occasional chatty first baseman, but for the most part, opponents genuinely hated each other. And in 1986, NL teams genuinely hated the Mets — and vice-versa. Three players in particular — Wally Backman, Ray Knight, and Lenny Dykstra — epitomized the “old school” way, and despite not being the most gifted or highest-profile players, were driving forces of the character of the last Mets World Championship club.

There are many things I remember vividly about Wally, beginning with his distinctive, squatting batting stance. He did everything he had to do to get on base, be it by hit, by getting hit, by walking, or, my favorite, via a drag bunt. His drag bunting from the left side was spectacular; he would push it hard past the pitcher, but too far away from the first baseman and more or less at the second baseman, who was usually playing too far back to field the ball in time. Both Backman and Mookie Wilson turned that execution into an art form, and seemed to always get a hit as a result. To this day I don’t understand why the Mets haven’t sent Jose Reyes to work with Wally and/or Mookie during spring training to learn how to bunt like this; Reyes might hit .350 if he bunted for a hit more often.

But I digress …

Of course I remember Wally’s hard-nosed play and passion on the field. Though, one other incident that sticks with me was off the field: his run-in with Darryl Strawberry in 1987. For years, Straw was chronically late for games and/or would beg out after partying too much the evening before. The Straw that broke the camel’s back came in early July ’87, when Darryl recorded a rap song on a Monday night, then came up “ill” on Tuesday night before an important game against the Cardinals. He sat out that game and the next for “low-grade fever and headache”; his teammates translated that to mean, “I don’t want to face the Cards’ two tough lefty starters Joe Magrane and Mike Mathews”. Lee Mazzilli and Wally Backman called out Darryl in the press, with Backman saying, “From the stuff I heard from the trainer’s room, Straw should’ve been out there. Nobody in the world that I know of gets sick 25 times a year.” This prompted the 6’6″ Strawberry to respond, “I’ll bust that little redneck in the face”. When reporters relayed that to the 5’8″ Backman, Wally said, “If that’s the case, do you think I’m going to back down?”. Gotta love it.

There were many, many others to wear #6, so I’m sure you have your own choice to represent this day. Just a few of them: Jose Cardenal, Al Weis, Mike Vail, Alex Trevino, Daryl Boston, Joe Orsulak, Melvin Mora, Timo Perez, Mike DiFelice, Ruben Gotay. What #6 do you remember most and why? Share your memories in the comments.

We have less than a week, folks!

The countdown thus far:

#6 Wally Backman
#7 Hubie Brooks
#8 Gary Carter
#9 Gregg Jefferies
#10 Rusty Staub
#11 Lenny Randle
#12 John Stearns
#13 Edgardo Alfonzo
#14 Gil Hodges
#15 Jerry Grote
#16 Dwight Gooden
#17 Felix Millan
#18 Darryl Strawberry
#19 Anthony Young
#20 Howard Johnson
#21 Gary Rajsich
#22 Ray Knight
#23 Doug Flynn
#24 Kelvin Torve
#25 Willie Montanez (no link … sadly, didn’t have time to write a post)
#26 Dave Kingman
#27 Pete Harnisch
#28 John Milner
#29 Alex Trevino
#30 Jackson Todd


Darryl Strawberry Says Mets Should Have Hired Backman

As reported on The New York Times:

Darryl Strawberry said the Mets should have hired Wally Backman as manager instead of Terry Collins. Mr. Strawberry played with Mr. Backman on the Mets’ 1986 championship team. “Wally will be the next manager of the Mets,” Mr. Strawberry said Tuesday. “I thought he would have been the right choice for them at this point.”

Oh boy … spring training hasn’t even started and already Terry Collins’ job is being debated.

If the Mets perform as poorly as expected — i.e., not be in the running for a playoff spot — how many more times are we going to see news like this? In other words, will Terry Collins be constantly looking over his shoulder, and/or have his job publicly debated?

Loyal readers of MetsToday know that I supported Backman for manager. However, in a way I’m glad he didn’t get the job now, considering the uphill (and downhill) battle that appears ahead. With the tight budget of this year, the expected turnover / overhaul of the roster next year, and lack of young talent to count on going forward, the next 2 years are going to be difficult. And when things don’t go well, someone has to take the blame — deserved or not. What Terry Collins has ahead of him in regard to the court of public opinion is no cakewalk.


Will Fans Give Collins or Melvin Time To Win?

If the people voicing their opinion on the internets (via polls, blogs, blog comments, twitter, facebook, etc.) are any indication, then the majority of Mets fans would like to see Wally Backman installed as manager of the New York Mets in 2011. It would seem that the fans’ second choice is Chip Hale — again, this based on an unreliable, cursory review of the interweb digital super highway.

However there seems to be a universal backlash against the possibility of either Bob Melvin or Terry Collins getting the job.


Wally Knows How To Be a Champion

After berating and then mildly correcting / directing his club in a postgame meeting following a devastating playoff loss, Wally Backman shares with his team the secrets to winning championships.

By the way, as soon as I find appropriate and relevant video footage of the other three managerial candidates, I will post them here.


Wally Knows Intangibles

After Wally Backman cooled down from his postgame conniption, he calmed down enough to explain how fundamentals, intangibles, and manufacturing runs lead to wins.

NSFW – though the F-bombs are much fewer in volume compared to part one.


Wally Knows Postgame Meetings

He also knows “dog days” and fear, by the way. This is part one of three videos of Wally Backman addressing his South Georgia Peanuts team after they were crushed in a playoff game.

NSFW ! (that means, Not Suitable For the Workplace). Wally throws a record number of F-bombs in this video — but what else would you expect from a backwoods blue collar guy who never went to college? The Ivy League guys have a much more prolific assortment of adjectives, adverbs, and nouns to use in their presentations; either way, the message is the same.

From this meeting you will notice that Wally is very, very upset with this team. Yet, no tables were overturned, no chairs thrown, no shirts taken off, and no players strangled. It’s almost as if Wally was in complete control of his emotions, while passionately getting his point across.