Tag: wally backman

Mets Can Learn from the Jets

During the NFL offseason, the Jets made the somewhat surprising move of hiring Rex Ryan as their head coach. The hiring was met with mixed opinions from the pundits, and there were much eye rolling going on when Ryan addressed the media on several occasions with big talk about the Jets — and that he EXPECTED to win immediately:

Similarly, Wally Backman said in this interview that he believes a team’s goal should ALWAYS be to win, and has a major issue with managers who talk about “reaching .500”. He says the only number that should matter “is winning the fourth game of the World Series” :

I may be in the minority here, but I fully believe that there are some leaders — in every sport — who can have a significant, positive impact on a team’s success as a direct result of their attitude and the development of a “winning culture”. Bill Parcells is one of those guys, so is Bill Belichick, and so was Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. In baseball, you can point to Bobby Cox, Tom Lasorda, Casey Stengel, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, Whitey Herzog, Tony LaRussa. Yes, those managers often had talent, and they didn’t win a championship every single year, but they also fostered a winning culture and taught winning habits that can’t be measured on a stat sheet (though it can be seen through championship trophies and career won-lost records). There aren’t many “impact” leaders in MLB these days — but Wally might be one of those rare figures.

It can’t hurt to send him to Binghamton to find out, can it?

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Mets Continue to Clean House

Somehow this news got buried at the bottom of Adam Rubin’s postgame report on Sunday night, as if it were inconsequential: Binghamton B-Mets manager Mako Oliveras and Gulf Coast League manager Julio Franco have been fired.

Oliveras and Franco join Minor League Special Assistant Ramon Pena and “Field Coordinator” Luis Aguayo on the unemployment line — both were fired last week.

As Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog notes, “…Omar Minaya is planning to replace all of Tony Bernazard’s guys with ‘his own guys’…”.

So to review, the following positions are now open:

– Vice President of Player Development
– Minor League Special Assistant
– Field Coordinator (whatever that is)
– AA manager for the Binghamton Mets
– Rookie League manager for the GCL Mets

The first three positions, I’m guessing, were created for the people who held them. Still, I’m sure at least two of those spots will be filled with a new person, filling some type of scouting and development roles. And of course the Mets will need to hire managers for the two minor league clubs.

You know who MetsToday is supporting …

(Wally Backman on developing MLB players courtesy of Playing for Peanuts)

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Bring Wally Back, Man

The first shoe dropped when Tony Bernazard was relieved of his services. Most recently, Latin American scouting chief Ramon Pena met the same fate. Additionally, Omar Minaya’s former mentor and current right-hand man Sandy Johnson announced he’d be retiring at the end of the season. Further, the future of the Mets’ coaching staff is “under evaluation”.

In other words, the Mets are cleaning house — and it won’t be long before Jerry Manuel finds himself in a similar situation that his “friend” Willie Randolph found himself in the late spring of 2008.

All signs from the Wilpons are that both Minaya and Manuel will retain their jobs through the winter. It’s the same modus operandi that kept Randolph employed after the infamous collapse of 2007. Randolph was given leniency, but was put on a short leash — one attached to a spiked prong collar. So is history is any indicator, we can assume that although Manuel may begin the 2010 season as Mets manager, it’s no guarantee that he will end the season in the same position.

But who will be the next in line if / when Jerry Manuel can’t get the cavalry to come out guns a-blazin’ in April and May of next year?

Turn back the clock to 1983. The Mets were in the middle of a rebuilding phase that would eventually result in the 1986 World Championship. They coaxed a former manager in their minor league system to come back to the organization and lead their AAA Tidewater Tides.

His name was Davey Johnson.

Johnson led the Tides to the AAA championship — much like he led his other minor league teams to championships. At the time, people considered him something of a loose cannon; a gruff, no-nonsense, old-school player’s manager with a hot temper. He eschewed authority and said what was on his mind, regardless of who he hurt as a result — even if it was himself. But there was one thing that separated this gunslinger from every other manager on the planet — he won everywhere he went.

Johnson knew how to motivate his squad, had a great eye for talent, an even better ability to make the most of the talent he was given, and earned a penchant for developing young players. One of his favorite soldiers was a like-minded, scrappy ballplayer named Wally Backman.

You know the story of Backman the player. You might know the story of Backman the manager. Though he’s found more notoriety for negative incidents, he’s proven himself at every level as a field general. Like Johnson, he’s won everywhere he’s been, with a room full of championship trophies — including one for Minor League Manager of the Year in 2004. He knows how to get the most out of his ballplayers — any of them will readily admit to running through the proverbial brick wall for him. As a minor league manager, he’s followed in the footsteps of his previous mentor and earned a rep for developing young ballplayers, teaching them the fundamentals and a winning approach to the game. The only reason he’s not managing in the big leagues today is because of an unfortunate combination of poor judgment, blackmail, and public relations sensitivity which we won’t get into here. The bottom line is this: Wally Backman wins, he has a strong tie to the last Mets’ World Championship, he develops young talent, and he’s exactly the right personality this organization needs right now.

It’s clear that Jerry Manuel will be the Mets manager on Opening Day in 2010, and that’s fine — the team isn’t likely to be playing “meaningful games in September” this time next year anyhow. A great move by the Mets would be to hire Backman as, say, the manager of the AAA Buffalo Bisons, or the AA Binghamton Mets, for the 2010 season. Somehow, some way, get him back into the organization. Put him in charge of one of your last-place minor league clubs and see what he can do — he just might surprise you. And if he does, you have a manager-in-waiting ready to take over the helm at the big league level when it’s time for Jerry Manuel to move on.

The Mets have nothing to lose by bringing Wally back into the fold — and everything to gain. The organization has suffered its worst campaign in terms of public relations in at least five years, and the fan base is losing hope. Hiring a beloved hero from the past — one with a strong personality, winning track record, and the no-bs, underdog persona that Mets supporters crave — would be the first step in showing the fans that there is hope: Mets do indeed have a plan, and steps in the right direction have begun. And if they’re serious about their commitment to youth, they’d do well to install a man who knows what to do with it.

The restructuring started with the removal of personnel that held the team back; it will continue with the hiring of new personnel — with new ideas and attitudes to push the team forward.

Check out the following two videos and decide for yourself whether the Mets organization can use someone like Wally to shape up the ship and reverse its farm system’s poor reputation.

Wally Backman on Aggressive Baseball

Wally Backman on Developing MLB Players

BTW – The videos are from “Playing for Peanuts” which aired briefly on SNY. Stay tuned for more great behind-the-scenes/deleted footage that show what kind of manager Wally is, because MetsToday firmly believes its time for a change in the Mets organization. It’s time to Bring Wally Back, Man!

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Yankees Manage Adversity, Mets Don’t

Peter Abraham explains how the Yankees were able to wade through adversity earlier this season while the Mets keep coming up with excuses.

USAToday spotlights Wally Backman’s road back to an MLB managing job.

It doesn’t just seem like Mets pitchers give up a lot of hits and walks to opposing pitchers … JF at I Hate the Mets shows us the proof.

Brooklyn Met Fan, like me, grew up idolizing John Stearns. So he knows of what he speaks when he suggests this year’s Mets are the worst ever.

I.M. Forme found some nice new hats for Mets fans, and calls out Omar Minaya for lack of effort this past offseason.

It’s Mets for Me also found this video taken by a “person familiar with the situation” in the Mets’ international scouting department:

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Mets Link Roundup: Uncle Vin, Antsy Jose, ESPN and Wally F’ing Backman

David Lennon reports that Vin Scully hilariously compared last night’s loss to the 1962 Mets.

The Mets Police has a nicely worded rant against ESPN’s Sunday night baseball. Rather than focus entirely on the Beltran/Phillips debate (remember these guys?), Mets Police basically lays out a case that ESPN is to baseball what ESPN is to sports in general (a disaster).

According to the NY Post, Jose Reyes is getting antsy while Mets management is claiming to be confused by his slow progress… Does anyone else remember Reyes’ history of leg problems? Does anyone else remember how the Mets mishandled Ryan Church’s concussion? Too soon? Too scary?

And finally, a few words from former Mets 2B Wally Backman. This is unedited audio from a locker room speech that Backman gave to his minor league team in 2007, following the team’s first loss of the season. Backman is able to use profanity to rip his team in one sentence and then use it to build his players back up with the next sentence. He’s an artist working in the medium of F-bombs… Enjoy:

(Caution: Explicit Language):

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Link Roundup

Several members of the media question the emasculation of Ramon Castro, including Ed Coleman.

Similarly, Adam Rubin believes Jerry Manuel is burning his bridges with Castro, and doesn’t understand why he was tweaking Ryan Church earlier this spring, either. Oh, he also thinks Manuel is burning out the bullpen. Funny how those things are more noticeable when you’re losing.

Mike Vaccaro also wakes up and smells the coffee, pointing out that Jerry Manuel had a “personality conflict” with Frank Thomas in Chicago, and wonders if the banishment of Ramon Castro is a prelude to challenging Carlos Delgado or David Wright.

Enough negativity … how about something positive? The Yankees are slashing their ticket prices. Oh, wait, those reductions are only for the highest-priced, premium seats — the ones that, ironically, are in the direct focus of the centerfield TV camera.

Maybe today’s video will make you smile. It is Wally Backman speaking from his RV, about everything from the ’86 Mets to his theories on the DH.

Use the left/right arrows to jump from clip to clip:

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Happy Birthday Brian Giles

Brian Giles, second baseman for the New York Mets in 1983Before there was Brian Giles the on-base machine, there was Brian Giles the light-hitting second baseman for the New York Mets.

Giles epitomized everything that was wrong with the organization in 1983, but you have to look at the season before to understand the whole story.

In 1982, a 22-year-old firecracker named Wally Backman fought his way into 96 games, batting mostly at the bottom of the order, and finished the season with a .272 AVG and .387 OBP (73 points higher than leadoff man Mookie Wilson and tops on the team by a longshot). However, the young Backman made 14 errors, which did not sit well with a hierarchy that previously valued the Gold Glove of Doug Flynn.

So in spring training of 1983, instead of installing him at second base with the hopes that the hardworking Backman would eventually improve defensively (you know, kinda like Dan Murphy in LF this year?), they instead made the position an open competition, and finally settled on Brian Giles as the starter. Mind you, this was the 1983 Mets, a team going nowhere fast.

In 145 games for the last-place Mets, Giles — often hitting 6th or 7th in the lineup — batted .245 with a .308 OBP and .298 SLG. These numbers actually look decent next to his double play partner Jose Oquendo, who as a 19-year-old rookie batted .213. On the field, Giles led the team in assists with 390, made 14 errors, posted a .980 fielding PCT, and turned 90 of the Mets’ 171 DPs. Meantime, Wally Backman was igniting Davey Johnson’s Tidewater Tides toward a AAA title. The following season, Giles and Backman switched places, and Giles did not return to the bigs until 1985, with Milwaukee.

After 1983, Giles played in only 88 more MLB games, finishing his career in Seattle in 1990 — five years prior to the MLB debut of the “other” Brian Giles.

Also born on this date: Bob MacDonald (1965), Eric Hillman (1966), and Jim Duquette’s love child Orber Moreno (1977).

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