Way 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 the 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.