Since the end of the 2011 season the Mets have extended Terry Collins another year to 2013, and announced an overhaul of their coaching staff. The latter didn’t include Binghamton manager Wally Backman, who many speculate will be offered the Triple-A job in Buffalo now that Tim Teufel has been promoted to coach third base in New York. What does the future hold for Backman? With the Mets I am unsure, but inevitably it will lead to a big league managerial job.
By now you know that Backman was hired to be the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004, and subsequently fired four days later after information about a 1999 DUI arrest surfaced during a background check. The incident led to Backman being on the outside looking in when it came to big league jobs. No one was willing to bring him in for a job interviews; not even for a minor league coaching assignment. He would get back on the radar in 2007 when he managed the South Georgia Peanuts to a championship in the now defunct independent South Coast League. The evolution of YouTube and social media highlighted Backman infamous tirades with the umpires. The old spark from his days as the Mets second basemen was on display for all to see.
Backman often gets stigmatized for being a hot head. He’s made mistakes off the field, but there is more to him on the field than arguing with umpires. He’s played a huge role in the development of big leaguers such as Dan Uggla, Aaron Rowand, and Carlos Quentin. He won minor league titles in both the White Sox and Diamondbacks organization. He was named the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year in 2004. Yes, he is fiery and combustible, but he is a manager that comes prepared, motivates his players, and most important, knows how to teach the finer points of the game. You can have the best drafts yearly, but if your coaches can’t teach many of that talent will go to waste. Under Backman, players maximize their potential if they have the desire to do so.
He finally returned to affiliated ball in 2010 when the Mets hired him. It was a call to Jeff Wilpon that opened the lines of communication that had been closed for so long. He would lead the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NY-Penn League championship series with an aggressive and fun style of play. It was thought he was the favorite to replace Jerry Manuel as the Mets manager, but he finished behind both Terry Collins and Chip Hale. His consolation prize was managing Double-A Binghamton this year, only to be given a team that didn’t possess Double-A talent. Despite a 66-76 finish, his B-Mets finished strong with a 20-7 record in August and a 35-21 mark after July 6th.
Ultimately I believe Backman will succeed Terry Collins as Mets manager, this is if he doesn’t get offered a job somewhere else first. Backman said a couple of years ago he rather manage in the minors than be on someone’s staff at the big league level. He is someone that yearns to be in charge of his own ship and believes his talents yield the best return in that type of situation.
Right now, the Mets can enjoy the benefit of Backman working with some of their young kids at the Triple-A level. The farm system is just beginning to turnaround with Sandy Alderson in charge, so Backman’s role will become more important as the organization restocks over the next three years. By the end of 2013 time Terry Collins will be three years into the job. Where will the team be? Will the fiery Collins still connect with the club? Will he want to continue managing? All questions that we don’t have answers to right now.
Wally Backman’s future will eventually lead to him taking over one of the 30 big league clubs. I still believe he is destined to take over the Mets; it’s just going to take a little longer than he would like. All good things come to those that wait, even stories with inevitable happy endings.