Terry, Wally, and Sandy

dwight-gooden-SIWay back in either 1985 or 1986, certainly before Smithers, I remember a column Mike Lupica wrote. At that time Lupica could be entertaining, I’m guessing he hadn’t become BFFs with Jeff yet. Anyway the article was written from the perspective that we were in the future and it was the day of Dwight Gooden’s 300th win. The idea was that it was when, not if, for Gooden and 300. Well, I can tell you, I never forgot that article, because when I read it I actually thought it was all going to happen. Gooden would be great for a baseball lifetime, and so would the Mets. What could go wrong? I was young and naive. You see, folks, cynics such as myself, we are not born that way.

This article was a full game story about the hypothetical 300th win game, and I could be wrong, but I think perennial All-Star Shawn Abner was manning left field. (That could be the cynic talking.) What I am positive about is that it included our fiery field manager, Wally Backman.

I never forgot that, because to Lupica’s credit it rang true. And sure enough Wally went into managing, and of course he was fiery, and truth be told I would have loved to have him manage shawn abnerthe Mets. But once Sandy Alderson showed up I considered the idea about as realistic as Shawn Abner perennial All-Star. And now, sure enough, reports indicate that Terry Collins is being retained as Mets manager and that Wally Backman is leaving the organization.

But the thing is I understand it all, and when it comes to Wally, I would say this is all a case of bad timing. When I think of Backman as being a good manager, I envision him as Wally, not a corporate middle man. And as long as Sandy is around that is the manager’s role. Do what you are told.

I have never had any real beef with Terry Collins and still don’t. He has made a decision that it is important enough to wear that major league uniform that he will do things the Mets way. And we are too far along the road to change course now. Keeping Collins and Alderson connected is logical heading into 2014, a pivotal year. When folks suggest that Collins be dismissed, do they really think things are going to change much?

Changing managers would be the usual symbolic move. Unless we are going to change the GM it would just be a case of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” And now is not the time for a big organizational change. Sandy Alderson should be allowed to do things his way again in 2014. If our fortunes do not reverse, I agree we will need a manager. But hey, we’ll need more than that.

So we can keep Wally’s number handy, just in case.








Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS


  1. Eraff says:

    Backman was provided an opportunity to Rehab his Rep…That was the Home Town Loyalty offered by the Organization. He was NEVER going to be the field Manager. He’s not their type of guy. This is strictly a Top Down Org— the Manager will NEVER ve the focus or the Commander of the entire Organization.

    Firing a Manager is Typical…Yes. It is also a very visible way of saying “Things are changing!”. Symbolic…Unfair… it’s a move made inside and outside of baseball—fire a visible leader. In doing so, they would make a visible commitment to CHANGE…however, a Commitment to change would come with great expectation of Changes…. are they willing to GET ON THE CLOCK?

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      The clock already began long ago. The moment Alderson arrived and hired Collins it was that there was a “plan”. They kept talking of this “plan”. Barely executed any part of the “plan”, other than watching contracts expire which is sort of like watching grass grow.

  2. blastingzone says:

    Its a dam greek tragedy, Wally would light a fire under the player’s ASS and would be the right manager take the mets to the next level! Terry is not a good
    in field manager and has served his purpose so the mets need to move on!
    I remember another manager the mets were hesitant to hire but when they
    finally did it turned out to be a great move his name was Davey Johnson and
    he was his own man just like Wally is! Sandy and the Wilpons need to grow
    a pair and realize if they want to win they need to hire Wally,Tim,T, hell
    anybody would be better than Terry!!

    • You can explode a nuclear bomb under, for example, Andy Brown’s ass, but you’re never going to turn him into Ted Williams. The problem isn’t the manager, it’s simply the lack of actual MLB-level talent on the field. Have you seen their lineup lately? No matter how you cut it, this is a 70-win team we’re fielding here.

  3. Eraff says:

    BTW… Backman can ride the ’86 Love Boat forever—-my EX-MET manager prospect would be Ron Gardenheir…NOT because he’s an ex-met, but because he’s managed very successfully in a small/mid market type environment. That’s the model here–a couple of big contracts and alot of mix/match plus organizational perk up players.He’s a great match.

    William’s comments are correct…this collection of players is combined Unready = Under-talented. They are NOT unwilling or under-motivated.

    You can’t make a Silk Purse from a Sow’s Ear!

  4. A question popped into my head: If we were writing a piece with a similar conceit, the Mets 15-20 years into the future, who on the current roster would be your vote for most likely to become manager? Murphy was the only far-flung, Dark Horse candidate I could muster, but I couldn’t get myself to actually believe it. A don’t see a future manager on this squad, for what that’s worth.

  5. RAFF says:

    I’m going to reprise the question I posed to your excellent earlier blog- “No Free Passes in 2014″– and combine it with my comment on today’s missive::: WHAT has been accomplished which indicates that 2014 is “pivotal”? These guys are like magicians- distracting us with comments about Contracts Coming Off the Books, while implying through innuendo and stating through outright lies that they have intentions to Spend A Lot More— Wasn’t Fred out last February stating the team had no money woes and can spend $100MM or more??? Isn’t the same figure being bandied about now? And- Didn’t he follow those statements by pocketing $20MM this year, and continue the downward momentum in Payroll> From $120MM in 2011, to $93MM in 2012, to $73MM this year? All while paying lip service to investing in talent and having resources. I understand- ‘YA GOTTA BELIEVE!>> But for me- I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Raff, to answer your question, “2014” has been on Sandy’s lips from the beginning. The contracts coming off the books, etc. And all of that rhetoric basically earned him a free pass these past 3 long & shitty years. Yes, some true believers will always defend Alderson on every issue (8 straight losing seasons as GM and he’s still praised as a “genius” by some). So 2014 is pivotal in terms of perception — and, hopefully, renewed critical thought & accountability. For many reasonable and fair-minded fans, the free pass has expired.

      For me, I believe that the New York Mets can be a vastly improved team in 2014. They will need to spend some money, most certainly. But even without exceeding $100M in payroll, the Mets could be a vastly improved team capable of competing for a Wild Card spot. Given that clear potential, 2014 is pivotal. Because a failure to do so would be a failure of management. A failure of ownership.

      2014: Fresh out of excuses.

      • RAFF says:

        OK, Jimmy – So- for whatever reason, they didn’t elect to begin building out some talent, in spite of the fact that they have been, for the past two years – $7MM under their Payroll-Projection, and $27MM under their Payroll-Projection, respectively, in 2012 & 2013. Apparently, we need to suspend reality and just accept that they just; didn’t see fit, didn’t identify the ‘right’ talent, or just didn’t make personnel upgrades for WHATEVER reason they didn’t. So now, Shin Soo Choo is on their radar, and a bunch of other guys. Choo is going to get a substantial pay raise- and he should. But he played this year for about $7MM- on a one-year-deal. He’s one of the guys they MISSED as they appraised VALUE in the marketplace. I’m guessing the Mets could have put a reasonable 3 year offer on the table for Choo, last year, as they were pocketing the additional $20MM Payroll-Downgrade, which would have delivered true value for the Mets and a better deal for him. And there are other similar players and potential deals which they didn’t pursue which similarly raise my suspicion that they aren’t serious, committed, or otherwise disposed to aggressively pursue players who would improve this team. I don’t think this is complicated- The Red Sox won 69 Games last year- THey were worse than the Mets this year— They acquired Talent— Napoli- Gomes, Victorino, Drew- and others— They COMMITTED. They had a plan. The METS? — ‘Ya Gotta Believe…

  6. Bob B says:

    I remember that column. If I recall, the win was against “Pete Rose’s Los Angeles Dodgers”.

  7. Alan K. says:

    Wally Backman is not a fit with the present organizational philosophy as it pertains to the role of managers. And while I don’t think Collins is the ideal manager, he’s probably better than any new manager that Alderson would likely bring in to replace him. Plus I don’t think he should be the fall guy for failures that are more the fault of ownership and management.

  8. Bob B says:

    But, to the point. The Mets became a contending team in Frank Cashen’s fifth year. Davey Johnson got that line up to a total of one World Series and one other division title (where he was outmanaged in the playoffs by Tom Lasorda of all people). I’ve heard about enough about the myth of Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen. After 86, Cashen did his best to rid the team of the bad apples (you know, the winners). So we got to watch Lenny Dykstra and Wally Backman and Kevin Mitchell and Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry in the playoffs and World Series for other teams. But at least Kevin McReynolds said his prayers and didn’t stay out late.

  9. Patrick Boegel says:

    Was Johnson really “out managed” or was it simply a twist of fate? Davey was never nor is in my mind a master tactician of the game as much as he could manage personnel.

    That being said, when one considers the conditions under which baseball was played when those two were joined at the hip, it is vastly different than the game we have come to know the last nearly 20 years.

    At that time, the regular season was the playoffs, there was actual urgency in the regular season, not fall back options via wild cards.

    Forgetting even realignment the Mets would have been in the playoffs with a wild card scenario in 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990.

    With that in consideration, what kind of changes if any would needed to have been made along the way.

    Much mythology in many ways has always been made of Kevin Mitchell and Kevin McReynolds. Mitchell was a player without a position with the Mets and McReynolds fit into the mold of a team that Cashen was always trying to create. He was not a big platoon guy, he was an AL smash and bash em GM, get me 6-7 guys who can hit 20+ HRs and catch the ball and we will go from there.

    Trades are gambles that don’t always pan out perfectly, where the Mets failed in that trade was the PR department, in which they attempted to lay Doc’s and to a a lesser extent Darryl’s problems on Mitchell. It was a weird parting gift vs. saying, we wanted to acquire an everyday leftfielder.

    If Davey Johnson failed at anything it was not being cognizant that he needed to be more hands on than his “boys will be boys” attitude he had back in the day.

    But at some point it is people making choices. It is very likely, no matter who was the manager at that time, Dwight would have still been smoking crack and the rest would be history.

    I think the moral of the story is, no matter how bad things got there, those teams still had a fighting chance because the focus was on talent, not metrics. And also the sub moral is that it is disgusting to see Daisuke Matsuzaka wearing number 16.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I agree on the expanded playoffs.Those teams won a hell of a lot of games without making the playoffs, and that gets forgotten.

      Hey, with the extra Wild Card, 2007 and 2008 changes.

      Maybe that’s the Plan, hang in there until everyone without a sacred “protected pick” gets in.That way we would be having meaningful baseball right now, and not the bizarro type we are having for those that are ultra worried about the pick.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        The only thing I can say about the draft, is for once in the three years they have been doing it, they picked the guy who seemed to be the best baseball player available, not some schematic algorithm pick. So if they do get their pick protected this year, they better haul and do the same thing.

  10. vin says:

    It really doesn’t matter who manages or GMs this team, the decisions are made by upper management and it is not likely to change until this ownership leaves, or learns to stop interfering with operations.

Leave a Reply