With Sandy Alderson running the Mets, Wally Backman is never, ever going to be the manager of the team.
In fact, the only way Backman would ever be named manager of the club is if they’re so terrible that they’re going to win between 60-70 games regardless of whom the manager is, so they might as well have someone who’s got the potential to draw attention to himself one way or the other, positively or negatively.
By that reasoning, they could have Lenny Dykstra manage the team from jail.
It’s not that Backman doesn’t have the baseball smarts or dedication to be a successful manager—he loves baseball and was as fiery and determined as a player as he’s been and would be as manager; but he’s too much of a risk; a loose cannon with a history of off-field issues that still aren’t clear as to whether they’ve been completely resolved. He’s a Billy Martin clone and the only way Martin was able to last as long as he did in baseball was because George Steinbrenner kept bringing him back when he had no one else to turn to.
Martin was a great manager with zero self-control and a self-destructive streak second-to-none. If he were managing today, he wouldn’t be managing today because the age of information at the click of a button would make it all but impossible to cover up the latest bar fight; foray to a strip club; or arrival at the ballpark 15 minutes before first pitch hung over.
Backman didn’t get the job as Mets bench coach and is now rumored to be a candidate to take over as the third base coach for the Washington Nationals if, as expected, former Mets manager Davey Johnson stays on as Nats manager.
The Mets bench coach job went to veteran baseball man and former Athletics manager Bob Geren.
If I were Mets manager Terry Collins, I wouldn’t have wanted Backman either. Backman would undermine; he’d be someone to watch for a backstabbing action; and he’d be less a sounding board/assistant than a self-interested threat. That’s not what you want in a bench coach.
After the way his time as the A’s manager ended, I wouldn’t be surprised if Geren didn’t want to manage again at all and in spite of the way the players ripped him, he was a respected and successful minor league manager whose A’s teams weren’t particularly good for most of his tenure.
Given the Mets history of hiring managers, they haven’t promoted the Triple A manager since Bobby Valentine in 1996 and Valentine was an experienced big league manager whose list of transgressions were all within the game; Backman’s aren’t.
His act would not work with veteran players. In fact, one of the fears teams had in hiring Collins was his in-your-face attitude and searing intensity; he’s toned that down. Backman is the same guy as Collins was and that’s the last thing the Mets need.
Contrary to a belief stemming from faulty logic, fans don’t go to games to watch a manager manage. If there’s a spike in attendance when a name manager is hired, it’s because said name manager won’t take the job unless he has guarantees that his new team is going to bring in players so he can win.
Winning spurs attendance and that could have something to do with the manager, but isn’t because of the manager in and of himself.
It wouldn’t work. And if Backman wants to leave, the Mets should let him. If they’re somehow worried about him haunting them at some point, they should take solace in the fact that he might haunt them even more if he stays.