Although I have enjoyed Jerry Manuel’s ability to deflect and laugh in the face of his utter demise, Met fans are looking for someone to throw a water cooler when they are playing like this. With Wally Backman stirring in the minors and Fred Wilpon’s love for the ’86 team, is there a doubt that this is the inevitable move?
Wally Backman is the current favorite to replace Manuel and he is a stark contrast to the current head of the team. Backman has a history of success in the minors with affiliate clubs of the White Sox and the Diamondbacks. In 2004, Arizona took notice and looked to bring Backman to the big club. However, in November of that year Arizona learned about the baggage that tends to come with the hard nosed types. Wally found himself a target of Bryant Gumbel’s HBO Real Sports. The show took a look at Backman’s DUI arrest in 1999. More unsettling news was soon coming to the surface as reporters began to uncover the truth. In 2000, Backman was arrested due to an altercation in his home. Backman also had financial woes and filed for bankruptcy to avoid over 20 creditors.
The Diamondbacks found themselves in a media circus and fired Wally before he managed a game for the D-Backs. Backman returned to managing and found himself in a unique situation. He was managing the South Georgia Peanuts of the Independent South Coast League. A team like this would usually garner zero press, but Backman was now an interesting subject. A 10 episode documentary called “Playing for Peanuts” aired with Wally as the center. The documentary took a look at minor league baseball and the comeback of a manager. Although the series did not garner a huge following, baseball fans raved about the insight this miniseries gave.
Wally found himself platooning with former 2nd base partner Tim Teuffel in the Mets minor leagues. Teuffel was now managing the AA Binghamton affiliate and Backman was assigned to the Single A Brooklyn Cyclones. Despite his troubles, Wally has transported his signature style of play to each of his clubs.
“Wally Ball” is a throwback to a different era. The former Mets spark plug uses the hit and run, stealing, and hard nosed aggressive play to apply pressure to the opposition. He has a distinctive in your face attitude that he transfers to his players. Hustling and overall tenacity is required from his players. Umpires will also know when Wally is managing a club. Backman has a genuine magnetism. He defends is players and he goes after umpires. If the current Mets’ season isn’t getting you pumped about your team, I would suggest you get online and watch “Playing for Peanuts”. Better yet, get on youtube and check out some of the amazing rants from Backman. Baseball, for Wally should still be played with an oldschool smash mouth style. It would be a welcomed change from the lethargic swagger of the current Mets.
Wally talking strategy: