7 Reasons the Mets Would Be Better Off with Wally Backman as Manager for 2013
The New York Mets are in the midst of one of the most embarrassing stretches in franchise history.
On July 8, following the final game of the unofficial first half of the MLB regular season, the Mets were flying high and feeling good at six games over .500 (46-40) after winning seven-of-11 before the All-Star break.
Since then, things haven't gone anywhere but south.
The Mets entered the second half of the season a half-game back of the Atlanta Braves for the second wild-card spot, but have compiled a record of 23-43 as of Monday afternoon to fall 12.5 games out of the wild-card race.
That would indicate that a managerial change could be in order for the 2013 season. However, Terry Collins job appears safe (via ESPN).
The most logical replacement for Collins would be Wally Backman, former Met and manager of the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
While there are numerous reasons Collins should be back next season, the pros of bringing in a new guy must be addressed. Surely, Collins excels in particular areas where Backman may not, but the same can be said of Backman.
This isn't meant as an attack on Collins or his managerial skills, but rather as reasons why Backman would be a smart choice for the job next season.
The Final Record
There's no telling what the Mets final record will be for the 2012 season, but it isn't going to be very good.
A 90-loss season is a real possibility, and there isn't anything to like about a 90-loss season—especially one that is a direct product of an inexcusable second-half swoon.
Losing 100 games in a season is indicative of a hapless ballclub, and 90 losses is too close to that for comfort. Most managers don't get much consideration for another term after posting 90-loss seasons that can be chalked up to things other than a lack of talent.
Anything under 90 losses isn't as aesthetically disturbing, and while the Mets only have to win four of their final 10 games to avoid that number, seven of the final 10 are against teams fighting for playoff position (Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves).
Surely, Wally Backman's team—if it indeed became his—could muster more than 72 wins.
Terry Collins Lost the Team
There is nothing worse in sports than a team mailing it in toward the back end of the season, and the Mets have done exactly that under Terry Collins.
Despite what anyone in the clubhouse may say, there is no reason why a team that went 46-40 over its first 86 games should turn in a 23-43 record over its next 66.
Collins lost the Mets long ago, and he certainly has some semblance of doubt about the commitment of the current roster.
After a 16-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, a failure that marked the epic low point of this dreadful season, Collins was asked if he believed his players had quit.
He responded by saying, "You have to ask them... I have my own opinion. I am not going to express it publicly," according to Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News.
Of course, Collins tried to explain his comments at a later date, but what he said, and the way he said it, was really telling of his true feelings about this season.
What Have You Done for Me Lately?
It's hard to point out the flaws and shortcomings of Terry Collins because he genuinely cares about the ballclub and has been pulling his hair out while trying to figure out how to fix it. But he doesn't have the resume to excuse the poor play.
Collins won 77 games with the Mets last season, and while that number isn't embarrassing, it hardly warrants excitement.
This isn't a great manager in a dry spell. It is a largely unproven manager who may not ever learn how to repair the Mets.
Prior to his hiring in 2011, Collins hadn't managed in the big leagues since 1999 when he was fired by the Anaheim Angels after—you guessed it—a second-half swoon.
Collins has shown that he can get his team up for the beginning of the season, but carrying that enthusiasm and motivation over six months has been a problem.
Time for Change
After two seasons of obscurity, it might be time for the Mets to make a managerial change.
There will be plenty of players who were on the roster this year who won't be so lucky next year, so why not clean house entirely and bring in a new manager.
If the Wilpons choose to decline the $16 million team option on David Wright for next season, the roster would have zero star power and would likely be anemic.
It would be terrible to see Wright depart for greener pastures (and most other pastures around MLB are greener at this point), but cleaning house entirely might not be such a bad idea.
There is young talent in the minor leagues, especially on the mound, so the process of picking up the pieces in a broken organization would go much smoother than one would think.
A new manager would be instrumental in changing the culture of the Mets, and who better to begin a new era than former player Wally Backman?
What Do You Have to Lose?
There aren't many things worse for a fanbase than watching the hometown team collapse in the middle of a playoff race, then turn in four seasons of nearly unwatchable baseball.
Unfortunately, for Mets fans, that is exactly what has been endured since Willie Randolph's 2007 club did everything it could to miss the playoffs.
Now that the Mets have essentially hit rock bottom. The only way to go is up.
Nothing worse than what has already transpired over the last six seasons can occur under a new manager's watch. Following two seasons of heartbreak and four more of boring, ugly baseball, the time has come to give someone else a shot.
Wally Backman made it to the list of candidates for the Mets managerial position but was edged out by Terry Collins. He has the requisite skills to manage an MLB team. And even if he isn't great, the team can't be worse than the product on the field this season.
Wally Backman Expects the Best
For those who don't know, Wally Backman has been a stark raving mad man on the field and in the dugout throughout his time with the Binghamton Mets.
Terry Collins is known as a fiery manager who doesn't accept anything but the best from his players (a trait that seems questionable at this point), but Backman really laces into his players (and the umpires) when he doesn't get the results that he expects.
Here is a video of a postgame speech—if that's what you want to call this tirade (warning: profane language).
Now that your ears have been treated to Backman's masterful vocabulary and inspiring words, think about if Collins has done that this year.
Obviously, we don't have the answer to that because we aren't in the locker room, but it's hard to envision Collins losing it like that on his team after a poor effort.
Wally Backman's Reputation and Loyalty
Wally Backman is a lifelong New York Met if there ever was one.
Even after being denied the manager position in favor of Terry Collins, Backman decided to take the job with the Binghamton Mets, despite the obvious disadvantages of coaching a minor league team.
Backman received an open invitation to join Davey Johnson with the Washington Nationals, but refused that offer in favor of becoming the manager of the Buffalo Bisons this season (via NorthJersey.com's Bob Klapisch).
He clearly wants a chance to prove himself as a major league manager and should be the next in line if the manager spot is vacated anytime soon.
His reputation is great through all ranks of the organization, and that can go a long way in terms of manager-player relationships.
It may be unfair to use Collins as a scapegoat for this dismal year, but baseball isn't fair, especially when it comes to the future of a franchise.