If you are reading this after clicking it from the main page then you know the title read “Fact: Wally Backman Will Be…” as opposed to what it really is: my opinion. The fact of the matter is it is my OPINION that the managerial direction of this club will make its way to Wallyball by the time we are looking at the next great Mets team we have been searching for for 28 years.
I may be wrong about this, but I have a theory regarding the “plan” Davey Johnson was referring to when he told Wally Backman to stay with the Mets a few years back, one I voiced on the most recent Rising Apple Report.
Friday, Wally Backman was named the PCL Manager of the Year after leading the Las Vegas franchise to back-to-back 80-win seasons for the first time in their history. They still have a year to finish and a PCL crown to win, but nonetheless, it is clear Wally Backman has done a great job in the role he has been placed in.
I found the news out from Matt Cerrone over on Metsblog, who also used the post to continue the Wally Backman/Terry Collins conversation. Now, others have voiced their skepticism that Wally Backman would ever be the Major League manager under Sandy Alderson’s watch, and Matt Cerrone has the same skepticism while also having umpteen sources within the Mets organization to contrast my zero. He also has skepticism regarding whether Wally Backman would even fit the job, or rather, whether the job would fit him:
"Frankly, I think he’d be great between the lines when the game is going on. In fact, I’m not sure anyone will be better. Instead, I worry how he’ll do in the time before and after the game, specifically in regards to the media. The reality is, like it or not, New York managers have to talk to reporters twice a day – and a lot more if you consider all the sidebar, off-record discussions that occur anywhere they can. My fear is that he’ll divide the clubhouse more than he’ll motivate and unite it. This might also be an issue if he’s bench coach, by the way."
"I think his message will work at first, but could so easily turn south if the team doesn’t do well, and depending on the talent that could be beyond his control. I love our local reporters and media, they’re great at what they do; but that’s the problem, they’re great at what they do. I can totally see him saying things, on record, off record, building walls, isolating people, taking shots at people above and below and – even if those comments are justified and accurate – it will spin out on control in way that, unless he’s really, really good at damage control, will create a bigger circus than already exists at Citi Field."
Before I lay out my theory on the “plan,” I’d first like to give my take on why I think Wally is ready to take on those outside, non-baseball-game-related items that seem to have extra-weight when dealing with a New York Ball Club.
The 54-year-old man has been working his way back from deep, deep personal troubles that ripped a managerial job away from him and sent him practicing his game with the South Georgia Peanuts of the independent South Coast League (which existed for one year with one champion: the South Georgia Peanuts. Probably because of this speech.) He went on an infamous tirade that was documented for the TV doc, Playing for Peanuts, but since getting a chance to professionally manage again, we haven’t heard a peep about any “non-professional” tirade, which many people deemed his independent league rant as.
Backman has walked the company line, and understands that the demons of his past will not allow him to have his dream, which is managing a Major League ballclub one day. He was to do so at the age of 44, and 10 years later he still hasn’t done so. On top of his understanding what it will take for him to manage a Major League ball club, he also has played in New York, and on a team that was as infamous as it was famous, having many a distraction that could have crippled a stretch.
Clearly, being the second baseman of that team isn’t being the manager of a ball club, especially in an age where there is LITERALLY coverage 24-7. I don’t think, however, we need to be so concerned his personality would negatively impact everything more than positively, because he has gone through a lot of crap. Crap that he created for himself; and at 54 years of age, with the managing retirement age generally at 70 or so, how many years would he seriously have if he became manager of a Major League ball club tomorrow?
Backman has paid his dues, he’s earned respect where it might not have been before, and he’s ready to manage a Major League ballclub. Now, whether or not that team will be the New York Metropolitans…here is my theory on how this whole thing will play out:
Aug 5, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets manager Terry Collins (10) looks on against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Terry Collins received a two-year deal at the end of the 2013 season, which was anything but a full vote of confidence. If Matt Harvey finishes the ’13 campaign, Terry Collins probably still receives that same kind of contract because it is still unclear whether Matt Harvey is the difference between Terry Collins having a winning or losing record. They will probably give him a mulligan because Matt Harvey will be back next year, and all reports indicate that is what will happen barring a seriously awful September, I would say (which would be kinda thrilling for me to help kick Terry Collins out of town, but this is my theory not based on REALLY REALLY wanting Terry Collins out of here.)
Most likely, the Mets will continue to be what they have been under Terry Collins, which is below mediocre in the second half of the season, never ever seeming to gain any traction with their solid wins under his watch. He won’t justify getting fired, but he won’t lead them to a 20-6 September record. So…”let’s see what he can do with Matt Harvey back and better talent beginning to trickle upward. Plus, we REALLY like the job Wally is doing with these guys who will be primed to help produce a baller Major League offense by 2016. We need him to keep helping these kids, and when they are ready, so will Wally be, and he’ll come up with them when Terry, at age 67 in May of 2016, has played out his contract.”
You see, they know the talent on this ball club is not ready, and they don’t want to waste Wally’s talent on an inferior product, even if he might be the little in-game difference between this overall-mediocre talent playing more consistently than they have under Terry. The Mets can let everything play out naturally without rushing the whole thing, unless, as prospects sometimes do, Terry forces their hand.
If September is absolutely, let’s say, historically awful, then they will have no other choice. Logic dictates the Mets will most likely once more play an interesting spoiler out there, while not necessarily having a winning record for the month in the process. In that situation, the Mets can continue letting it play out naturally, knowing that everything does seem to be falling into place with these talented guys coming up through the next generation of Mets coaches.
Plus, it could be very likely that Terry Collins stays on in a leadership role within the organization post-managerial era, unless unforeseen circumstances really throw their relationship off. Not to mention since it is unlikely, also at age 67 in 2016, that after Sandy Alderson’s 2015 option is picked up, he stays on as GM long-term.
Alderson probably sails off into the sunset, leaving a completely transformed organization who never had the foundation settled as they attempted to keep the Major League franchise afloat for 50+ years. So, most likely, let’s say in my theory, Paul DePodesta gets another shot at the Major Leagues after losing the Dodgers GM job, also 10 years ago. Then, as in Matt Cerrone’s opinion, “…(Wally) could work under Paul DePodesta, John Ricco or JP Ricciardi, but not Sandy.”
So, everybody is happy, the Mets enter a glorious new era, and we praise the way everything played out. That’s my theory on the “plan.” What do you guys think?