Jul 08

Reggie Jackson Should Shut Up; Wally Backman Defends Gary Carter

It must have been frustrating for Reggie Jackson when he questioned the validity of several Hall of Famers, including Gary Carter. I mean, nobody had been talking to him lately and he was out of the limelight.

Several of Carter’s teammates, including Wally Backman, came to his defense.

“Who is he to question?” Backman told the Bergen Record. “At least Gary was a complete player. It’s unbelievable Reggie would criticize a great guy and great player who’s passed away. Show some respect.”

Respect?

When it comes to respect to others, Jackson has no clue. He’s for himself first, second and to hell with everybody else.

Backman is right in that Carter was a more complete – and team player – than Jackson ever was. Some players tend to rub people the wrong way and what I’ll remember first about Jackson is not the three homers in the World Series game against the Dodgers, but for his derogatory comments about Thurman Munson, him ignoring Billy Martin’s signs and for scuffling with Martin in the dugout at Fenway.

Among his other comments in Sports Illustrated, Jackson said: “I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice,  I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.”

Honestly, Puckett (3,000 hits), Sutton and Niekro (300 wins) are milestone stats that have meant automatic entry into the Hall of Fame. It’s the same way with 500 homers. Had Jackson hit 450 homers, would he be a Hall of Famer? I’m not so sure.

And, speaking of landmark honors, what about the Yankees’ retiring his number? Take away that World Series game and Jackson’s penchant for beating his own drum, it’s a reach to call him one of the great Yankees worthy of that honor.

 

 

 

Nov 07

Good for Backman

I like that Wally Backman was finally offered the Mets’ Triple-A managerial job. It appeared Backman would take a bench coach job with Washington, which I said he should take because at the time the Mets didn’t offer him the Triple-A position.

Well, the Mets did offer that job and it is good he stays in the organization.

Backman could learn a lot by working with Davey Johnson, but he would learn significantly more by making his own decisions. Backman would stand to better his future position by managing in Buffalo rather than interning under Johnson.

Of course, we don’t know who will be on the managerial market when Terry Collins leaves, but should Backman steadily progress and he’s still in the organization, it stands to reason he’ll have the inside track for the Mets’ job.

Yes, Backman is showing loyalty to the Mets, and the organization is doing the same for him. But, this is also a business decision for Backman, who realizes his fastest road to the majors goes through Buffalo.

 

 

Oct 11

Riggleman to interview tomorrow; Mets could lose Backman.

Real good piece by Andy Martino of The Daily News on the Mets interviewing former Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman tomorrow for the bench coach job.

RIGGLEMAN: To interview with Mets.

Martino wrote of Riggleman calling the Mets’ Willie Harris – a former player of his with the Nationals – after he and wife Trey lost their daughter early in the pregnancy. Riggleman contacted Harris to offer support and council, shortly after he resigned as manager when the Nationals wouldn’t pick up his option.

It was an emotional and stressful time for Riggleman, yet he offered support to somebody else. The story humanizes Riggleman and showed compassion. As a bench coach, he will spend more time one-on-one with a player than Terry Collins. What Riggleman did was demonstrate the qualities of communication and understanding, essential for that position.

As a former manager, Riggleman doesn’t have to be trained for this job. Wally Backman, however, needs to be groomed.

I was for Backman getting the chance to be bench coach last year and work under Collins, but the Mets wouldn’t give him the opportunity. Not taking that chance might cost them as Backman could be offered the bench job under Davey Johnson with the Nationals.

It seems as if the Mets are just dancing with Backman, much as they did with Mookie Wilson. If the Mets truly want Backman to stay they would have immediately offered him the Triple-A job when Buffalo manager Tim Teufel was promoted to third base coach.

General manager Sandy Alderson said Backman is not a candidate for the major league staff, and given that, why shouldn’t the second baseman of the 1986 championship team look to better his position elsewhere? Working under Johnson would be ideal.

Although Backman interviewed for the Mets’ managerial position last year, it was to placate an uneasy fan base clamoring for change after Jerry Manuel’s disastrous tenure. Clearly, it was a token interview, and not moving him up the ladder indicates the organization has reservations.

And, if offered the job in Washington, Backman should have no reservations about leaving.

 

Nov 22

Mets to tab Collins as manager

Terry Collins is 61 years old and hasn’t managed in the major leagues in 11 years, but will become the 20th manager in Mets’ history.

I’m happy about the selection and don’t believe for a second the team doesn’t have its fingers on the pulse of its fans, many of whom remain infatuated with 1986 and preferred Wally Backman get the job.

I’m pleased with the selection because it showed the Mets followed through on their promise to make a thoughtful decision and didn’t cave to make the popular pick, the easy pick just to placate the emotions in the stands.

Doing so could have set the team back several years.

Sandy Alderson knows more about what’s going on than the fans and the media. He has a proven track record and was hired to rebuild this franchise. I trust he knows what he’s doing and want to see how things develop before trashing his pick.

Alderson conducted an exhaustive search of ten candidates before narrowing it down to Collins, Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Backman. Collins’ reputation is one of being fiery – the description of Backman, who has 444 less career major league wins as a manager – and of being solid in player development, essential for a team looking to rebuild.

Hale is expected to remain with the organization, but no word yet on what will become of Melvin and Backman. Both worked for the Mets last season and could be brought back.

Alderson has a rebuilding plan and it won’t happen overnight. Collins will be given a two-year contract, time enough to lay a strong foundation.

The Mets are a team in transition. Their first step was to add a well-respected front office, which has now made it first move.

Let’s see how it works.

Nov 10

Mets’ manager interviews to have second phase

The Mets’ managerial search will include a second round of interviews with Terry Collins, Don Melvin and Wally Backman. No word on any others getting a second round.

Speculation is with the hiring of Paul DePodesta to oversee the minor leagues and player development departments, Collins has become a frontrunner for the managerial job.

Collins, the Mets’ minor league field coordinator last season, has a better grasp of the Mets’ minor league system overall than the other candidates overall. Melvin was a major league scout last season for the Mets and Backman was manager of their Single-A Brooklyn affiliate.

Both Collins and Melvin have major league managing experience.

Initially, it was thought the new manager should not have ties to the Mets, but all three do, as does Tim Tuefel.