Oct 09

Backman Is “Sweet Lou” With Baggage

wally backman

John Erardi of the Cincinnati Enquirer had some glowing remarks about former Met and current Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman as he wonders if he could be the right man to manage the Reds going forward. Much as I like the idea of Reds pitching coach Bryan Price being elevated to manage the Reds, he writes, I’d also think about going in search of a young version of Lou Piniella.

I have no idea of who, almost a quarter of a century later, is the modern-day ‘‘Sweet Lou,’’ that is, somebody with attitude and confidence (even swagger), most notably with something to prove. he opines before answering his own question by saying he’d consider interviewing a Wally Backman-type, or better yet, Wally Backman himself. What are the odds of that happening? Click here to view MLB odds.

If the Reds are looking for a fiery manager, I think Backman fits that mold. Of course, this is all speculation by Erardi and there’s no rumors out there that the Reds have any interest in interviewing Wally for the job, but maybe the Cincinnati front office should take heed here.

Lord knows, Backman’s got something to prove, he says. “It’s obvious his former team — he was the second baseman for the 1986 World Champion New York Mets, for whom he’s managed and rehabilitated his way through the minors, and is slated to return to Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas next year — isn’t going to elevate him anytime soon.”

I love how he refers to Backman as ‘‘Sweet Lou with baggage’’ in his article. It’s perfect.

“There are worse things one could be called. If I were the Reds, I’d give him a call. Even if Backman isn’t envisioned to be a young Sweet Lou by the Reds’ brass, I’m willing to bet he would have some very interesting things to say about what he would do to light a fire underneath the players.”

I feel bad for Wally, and as I’ve said many times before, the Mets front office would never put their team in his hands. They hardly even view him as a coach on the major league level, let alone manager. Sadly, managing the Mets Triple-A affiliate will be the apex of Backman’s managerial exploits for the Mets organization.

Jan 11

Will Pete Rose Get Another Hit?

Well, now here’s a sign the apocalypse is upon us. Pete Rose, baseball’s career-hits leader, is about to host a new reality series.

The cameras will follow around Pete and his wife, former TV exercise queen Kiana Kim, to capture the daily doings of the every day couple. It should be as real as the Kardashians

ROSE: As we remember him.

Of course, this would have been more compelling had it been done when he was playing, or better still, managing the Reds. But, there’s a reason for Rose doing this other than money, and that is to be a continuing thorn in the side of Bud Selig.

I always liked Rose, always thought he should be in the Hall of Fame, primarily because his gambling was done when he was managing. I know this is contrary to my views on steroid users, but it is something I can’t get over, probably because he was one of my favorite players growing up.

I thought Rose was betrayed by then Commissioner Bart Giamatti. One of the contingencies of his agreement was that Major League Baseball would not state Rose gambled on baseball, but five minutes into Giamatti’s press conference he said Rose gambled on baseball.

That is probably one of the reasons why Rose so vehemently denied gambling for years. It also irked me that they banned him from the sport, yet in the ceremonies for the all-time team they paraded him out there. Of course, that was to avoid the embarrassment of not inviting him since  it was a fan vote.

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Jan 03

Wilpons To Refinance; They Aren’t Going Anywhere

As you greet the third day of the new year, Mets fans can digest the reported news (ESPN and The Post for starters) that ownership has refinanced $450 million in loans borrowed from SNY.

How this is structured, I don’t know, but it protects the Wilpons from having to make an overwhelming payment that would prevent them from retaining the team.

Presumably, the money will be used to pay off existing debt – including the structured court-ordered payments from the Ponzi scandal – with little going in the direction of player additions. (Save $25 million owed Johan Santana in his final season with the Mets).

It basically means what you think it means, that things are likely to remain the same in the foreseeable future. Look for nothing substantial in the rest of the free-agent market, and as in previous years for management to sit on their hands at the trade deadline.

GM Sandy Alderson has successfully slashed $50 million from the budget of the team he inherited, which was what he was hired to do.

The Mets were willing to commit up to $20 million to R.A. Dickey before they traded him for prospects, but now without that obligation there’s no word what they will spend that money on. Alderson said the team will have greater flexibility after the 2013 season when Santana is off the books, but he also said not to look for a big splash in the free-agent market.

With FA spending not an option for at least two years, and the Mets refusing to part with their young pitching in trades, and having little else to deal on the major league level, the team’s direction is to wait … and wait … and wait, until their prospects develop. And, of that there are no guarantees.

When you look at the Mets in comparison to the rest of the NL East, Washington has shown a willingness to spend, and Atlanta and Philadelphia proactive adding to a superior core. The Marlins seem in comparably bad shape – if not worse – than the Mets, but at least they are warm down there.

When you look at the rest of the National League, the Dodgers, Giants, Reds and Cardinals are all immediately better, financially more solvent and better run than the Mets. Even Pittsburgh, which hasn’t had a winning season in two decades, is more aggressive.

So, when people ask how long it will be until the Mets are competitive or relevant again, it is difficult to forecast. It might be two, three years before Matt Harvey blossoms and Jon Niese reaches his potential. There’s room for growth with Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell.

But, even if those things happen, we still don’t know who’ll be in the outfield or bullpen. We don’t know who’ll be in the rotation. We don’t know about catcher. We don’t know where David Wright will be in his career.

What we do know is the Mets have a myriad of questions, aggressive teams in their division and no definitive spending timetable.

We do know we have a long wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 16

Umpires Go After Dickey

The issue isn’t R.A. Dickey’s bracelet, but the umpires chose to make it one. Umpiring is as bad as ever these days, and last night’s decision indicates how clueless these guys are.

It also underscores the primary complaint about umpires, and that is inconsistency. You see it every game with each umpires’ “interpretation” of the strikezone. It is flat out WRONG that each umpire has his own strikezone. The one in the rule book is official and that’s the one that should be used.

Back to Dickey.

First, if the Reds did not complain about Dickey, then the umpires acted on their own. Since when are umpires to unilaterally made decisions – without input from either team – that impact the outcome of a game?

For example, umpires aren’t supposed to alert a runner if he failed to touch the plate. Nor, is he allowed to alert the defensive team. Here, the umps acted on their own.

If Dickey’s bracelet was permissible all season, what’s the big deal now? If last night’s crew was correct in ordering the bracelet removed, that would mean every other crew was wrong for allowing it.

That is, if the rules stipulate no jewelry – or is it no distracting jewelry? Again, reportedly the complaint did not come from the Reds.

If there’s a rule stipulating no attachments to the uniform, then what’s with all the chains, earrings and bracelets you see all the time in an ML game/ Why isn’t that enforced? Please don’t say “because the umpires have so much to do.”

If Dickey’s bracelet is to go, then so should everybody’s bling.

An umpire’s job is actually a simple one: Follow the rule book. Fair or foul; ball or strike; out or safe? It’s either one or the other. If there’s no jewelry of any kind, enforce it equally.

Dickey’s bracelet is a gray area, If Dickey pitched with it all season, then why the issue now? Either last night’s crew or every one before in a Dickey start is wrong. Which is it?

Which is it? That’s the essence of today’s umpiring. Nobody seems to know.

Aug 16

Dickey Seeing Red After Losing Bracelet In 6-1 Mets Loss

R.A. Dickey‘s quest for a Cy Young hit a speed bump Wednesday night in a bizarre 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

But Dickey will have to wait at least five more days to bolster his credentials. The knuckleballer served up a season-high three home runs to the Reds on Wednesday, dropping the Mets to a 6-1 loss.

Dickey may have been thrown off his game when the umpires forced him to cut off a bracelet that his daughter had given him when he made his climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dickey was visibly pissed, and had worn that bracelet all season long without any previous gripes by the umpires. Terry Collins confirmed it was the umpires who ordered Dickey’s bracelet cut and that it was not requested by Reds.

The Reds tagged Dickey five earned runs on ten hits including three home tuns in six innings of work. The home runs were definitely not cheapies especially Todd Frazier‘s which was estimated at 475 feet. Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce walloped the other two. He did strike out ten, so there’s that…

The Mets only had four hits in the games, two each by Mike Baxter and Ruben Tejada who batted first and second in the order.

The Mets are 9-22 since the all-star break and now seven games under .500 for the season.

Bobby Ojeda says the Mets now have a growing reputation in the league that they are passive offense and that teams are pounding the middle of the zone because they know the Mets batters are not going to swing.

The Mets will try to avoid the sweep in tomorrow’s finale as rookie Matt Harvey (1-3, 3.63 ERA) faces Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey (10-7, 4.08).