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The engine is revving on the Wally Backman bandwagon

Jun 11, 2013, 5:10 PM EDT

backman walking on field

Wally Backman is probably as good a candidate as any to be the Mets next manager. He’s the Triple-A manager. He’s popular among fans, especially ones who remember the 1980s. I was skeptical of his candidacy a couple of years ago because he really hadn’t had a lot of experience yet, but he’s worked his way up through the organization. I don’t know if he’s the best choice to succeed Terry Collins, but he’s obviously going to be a candidate.

Bob Klapisch, however, believes his candidacy has already begun. What kicked it off? The demotion of Ike Davis:

Now Davis is Wally Backman’s problem, although it’s worth asking the question that could lead to a more intriguing dialogue: What happens if Backman and his old-school, man’s-man approach actually fixes Davis? Then what?

Such a reclamation project would be more of a reflection of Backman’s interpersonal skills than Davis’ ability to hit for a respectable average. At least we know Davis has talent – we’ve seen it in the past, albeit not consistently since the second half of last season. But Backman is the wild card here, especially because he’s been languishing in the Mets’ farm system for four summers hoping to prove to someone, anyone, that he’s long since outrun his darker demons.

There are a lot of assumptions in here. The first being that Davis remembering how to hit would be a function of Backman’s magic or Davis simply being among less-talented pitchers in a hitting-friendly environment. Davis has shown, you know, that he can hit major league pitching, so if he hits PCL pitching in that launching pad in Las Vegas, I dont think it’s necessarily a function of Wally Backman being The Ike Davis Whisperer.

The other assumption is that the Mets, as an organization, don’t know what they have in Wally Backman. Like I said before, he’s been with the organization for several seasons now and has moved up. To think that they don’t really have a handle on his “darker demons” by now seems a bit off to me. Actually, it seems a bit more in keeping with the Wally Backman debates the media enjoyed a couple of years ago with the people who were interested in personalities and good stories pulling for Backman.

Which is to say that this seems like narrative-building to me, not actual analysis. The Mets have a lot of people in the organization whose job it is to assess their talent and assess their management. And those people are doing both with Davis and Backman already. It just doesn’t seem reasonable to think that whatever happens with Ike Davis in the next couple of weeks in the desert is going to make or break Wally Backman’s managerial career.

But I doubt that will stop the folks who have long been on the Backman bandwagon. They’re looking for magic and stories in what will be a far more boring organizational decision made by a deliberate general manager in Sandy Alderson. And I doubt they’ll stop looking between now and the end of Terry Collins’ contract come this October.

  1. pjmitch - Jun 11, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    As a Met fan, I like Wally Backman, but then again, I liked Bobby Valentine.

    • bigharold - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      Say anything you want about his tenure as RS manager, Valentine was the last Met’s manager to get them to the WS.

      Backman’s “darker demons” apparently are under control. After everything he went through in 2004, if he was really the loose cannon that he was purported to be he’d likely would have cracked under the pressure of losing the D’Backs job. In fact, considering that he’s essentially started from scratch in the Met’s organization one would have to say he should be taken on his recent history.

      I wonder if that’s Terry Collins’ outlook?

  2. specialkindofstupid - Jun 11, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    The Ike Davis Whisperer.

    Please get that mental image out of my head.

    • kevinbnyc - Jun 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      “It’s OK Ikey…the ball doesn’t hurt the bat…go ahead and hit it….”

  3. Bill Baer - Jun 11, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    I want Wally Backman in the Majors if it means more of this (NSFW language):

    • rick2248 - Jun 11, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      Terry Collins should have been fired 2 years ago this guy has never been a good ML manager.

      • thebadguyswon - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Terry Collins was the wrong choice in 2010.

      • neoshweaty - Jun 11, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        To be fair, what did he have to work with? This team has been pretty bad for a while and I happen to love the team. The team had beltran, reyes, santana, and wright for various points but there were a ton of injuries and trades/reyes being allowed to walk.

        Sigh

        I just want a .500 record sometime soon. Is that so much to ask of a team that plays in one of the biggest markets in the country with a large fanbase?

    • thebadguyswon - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      Absolutely, Bill. That is reason 1-A right there.

      And we’ll put that in our report.

  4. uuddlrlrbastart - Jun 11, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    I’ve been on the Wally Backman bandwagon since they fired Bobby Valentine after the 2002 season. And I’m fully prepared to be disappointed in him as he bunts and preaches pitching to contact and other nonsense that makes me crazy.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jun 11, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I so hope he throws all the bats and balls on the field again. Now that’s entertainment. Didn’t he steal some bases too that day? I like to remember it that way anyway.

  6. randygnyc - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    If Backman and his coaches fix Ike in Vegas, what does that say about the mets coaching staff?

  7. cackalackyank - Jun 11, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Ike Davis whispering aside….besides David Wright and some promising young pitching…any next manager of the Mets is going to need something the Mets don’t have a lot of…talent.

  8. chill1184 - Jun 11, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Backman is a white Ozzie Guillen, no thanks.

    • Old Gator - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:04 PM

      What a totally ridiculous, totally apocryphal comparison.

  9. Old Gator - Jun 11, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    First of all, Wally Backman does a couple of things Terry Collins can’t do. He motivates players. He wins.

    Second of all, I don’t think Backman’s “demons” ever measured up to full-fledged Pazuzu status. He had a rotten marriage, drank too much during that siege, and was being poked and prodded about it and said some misleading things that got him in trouble. Marriage over, ugly divorce battle resolved, and voila, the “demons” seem to have gone off to infect someone else. If this sounds like a familiar story, well, that’s because so many people have had to drink the poisoned waters of matrimonial blowback. We’re not talking about recidivist alcoholism or clinical depression or psychosis here. We’re just talking about a very talented and skillful baseball man who went through a rough time in his personal life.

    And we’re talking about a baseball team that plays listlessly and vapidly, like its collective head is up its collective ass. Wally is a sparkplug, which this vaporous ruin of a team desperately needs. It’s not getting that from the inept Wilpoons and it’s not getting that from the gray flannel buttoned-down organization hack Sandy Alderson.

    Wally in 2014.

  10. rickdobrydney - Jun 12, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    The Mets , laughing stock of basebal, DESERVE the clown in that video above——

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