Why Not Wally.

An article by posted on November 21, 2010

The last two weeks or so have been some of the worst I’ve experienced as a Mets fan.

I can deal with the 2007 and 2008 collapse. I can deal with Generation K being Generation 0. I can even deal with losing the World Series to the Yankees and losing Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals.

What I can’t deal with is watching the fan base at war with one another over who the Manager should be.

Think about this. When the NY Yankees (who I hate comparing us to) were hiring a new Manager after Joe Torre, one of the 2 finalists was Don Mattingly. Don Mattingly who for anybody growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was Yankee royalty.

When it was between he and Joe Girardi, sure Donny Baseball had his supporters (and still does), but it was nothing compared to the heated exchanges that occur within our own fan base over Wally Backman.

The crazy thing is, Mattingly sat on a Major League bench as a coach for four years prior to being a finalist for the job. Prior to that he had worked within the franchise as a special instructor for seven years! And even then, you never heard (at least I didn’t) such heated debates in regards to Girardi versus Mattingly.

The Wally Backman supporters have turned me sour on Backman. Similar to the supporters of certain political figures (any way you swing), I’ve just grown tired of hearing the excuses and the heated exchanges.

I’m not going to use sabermetrics here, and I’m not going to use my views on the importance of a Manager. A lot of us have made this a big deal, so I won’t shy away from that thought.

The problem I have with it is, it seems as though Backman’s supporters will accept NOBODY else but him. What an incredibly poor way to go about following a baseball team. What really shows me that we as a fan base have overlooked everybody else because we’ve grown obsessed with Wally Backman is the recent blog by Hojo’s Mojo.

A great post pointing out things we don’t know about Bob Melvin. How embarrassing is it that a large portion of our fan base didn’t know that one of our finalists was the Manager of the Year in 2007, and that team actually gave up more runs than it scored, yet they were the #1 seed in the NL playoffs.

What more can you ask for from a Manager? A manager who gets the very best out of his players, even though they may not be the best on the field.

I’m not a fan of Terry Collins, but if he were named Manager on Tuesday, I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “let’s go.” The sad thing is, a large portion of the fan base would always revert back to the Manager search to explain everything negative that occurs on the field.

Mets lose in extra innings? Wally would’ve never brought in that pitcher.

Mets on a losing streak? Wally would’ve inspired them to win.

Dave Wright in a slump? Not on Wally’s Watch.

I mean it’s gotten almost ridiculous.

I like Wally Backman a lot. I like the idea of him being the Mets Manager someday. However, I think Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta were brought in to first, figure out where this franchise is heading, and second to get them on the right path.

Bringing in a rookie major league Manager to a team that even the Front Office hasn’t had time to figure out yet, doesn’t work for me. It’s a waste of Backman’s potential talents.

I don’t know who would do a better job, Melvin or Backman. That’s where we all should be in my view. Yet, so many of us are sure as sure can be that Backman can do no wrong.

We bring up Bob Melvin’s 2003 Mariners, and 2007 Diamondbacks, and Wally’s supporters bring up Melvin’s failed seasons and ignore the fact Backman has managed just as many under .500 minor league teams as he has managed over .500 minor league teams.

The key word there is minor league.

Backman was once deemed ready to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks when expectations were at an all-time low, and the team has limited resources. That’s not the 2011 Mets. It may be the 2014 Mets, but not the 2011 Mets.

The most frustrating thing I hear is that the Mets roster needs a fiery guy to get in their face like Backman would. I think that couldn’t be further from the truth. Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Reyes, David Wright…you think these guys are going to respond to somebody who chews them out as motivation?

It’s such a ridiculous assumption to think that veteran big leaguers will accept with open arms a guy who hasn’t proven anything in the Major Leagues as a Manager standing there and getting in their face because that’s what the fan base wants.

If you underachieve at work because you’ve had a relaxed boss, you’re not going to respond to somebody who is always in your face.

Bob Melvin played under Sparky Anderson, Frank Robinson and Roger Craig. He was the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks when Luis Gonzalez hit the bloop into Center field in 2001 against Mariano Rivera, and he managed a very subpar Diamondbacks roster in 2007 to the LCS where they would lose to the scorching Colorado Rockies.

Of the candidates, Melvin is the best one for this roster. Whether you want to admit it or not, the New York Mets are in a state of “figuring things out.” The roster will get shaken up here and there, and Alderson and his team will begin to mold this franchise in the way they feel is best suited to win baseball games.

I think the real question everybody needs to ask themselves is, how long will you sit patiently and let the new Front Office do their work before you begin to complain? It’s a fair question, because I’ve got news for you.

Things are going to be different with this franchise. A portion of the franchise changing it ways, has to come from the fan base as well.

When you’re in a stage of transition, you don’t bring in an inexperienced “leader.” The Chicago Cubs are in a similar position. It would’ve been real easy for them to just name Ryne Sandberg their Manager. He didn’t fit the current makeup of the team, and in all likeliness they would’ve one day had to fire Sandberg before he really got anything going in Chicago. The same can be said for Wally Backman. He’s a fan favorite, no doubt about it. That doesn’t mean he fits the 2011 team.

He may one day be a great leader, but the last thing the Mets need is a Manager in waiting to jump to the front of the line.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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